- To what extent do you strive to live up to society's expectations of you?
- How frequently do you try to do what everyone else does, only because that's the so-called "norm"?
- How often do you do things to appease others just so that you're liked and accepted?
We live in a society that promotes a herd mentality rather than individuality. It's normal to be concerned about what others think of us, but some people follow the crowd to the exclusion of their feelings, likes, dislikes, and beliefs.
How did we become like this? Why do so many of us care so deeply about what people who don't pay our bills and who likely won't be at our side when we're dying say and think about us?
It all goes back to the days of early civilization, when cavemen roamed the earth. Back then, people had to band together in order to ensure their survival. The more people they could collaborate with, the better their chances of fending off dangerous animals, procuring food for themselves and their families, and so on.
While associating with many people in modern society can be advantageous in different ways -- say, for networking or babysitting -- that doesn't mean that we should go to such great lengths to be liked by everyone.
Yes, we can be similar to others in our thoughts and behavior, but we all bring unique perspectives and quirks to the table:
- Some of us love to drink, while others wouldn't be caught dead with a beer in hand
- Some of us love sex. Some of us don't.
- Some of us are quiet and withdrawn, and there are those who are highly gregarious
- Some of us are attracted to nerds, goths, skinny people, heavier people, etc.
- There are believers and non-believers
- There are liberals and conservatives
- Some of us love and aim to have kids; a few of us have no parental itch
- Some of us aim to be the CEO of a large corporation, while others would be just as happy mopping floors
It disturbs me when people try to impose their worldview on others around them. All of us are free to do and think as we wish, but that gives us no right to foist our beliefs and values on others -- nor they on us.
Never be afraid to be the real you. Let your genuine self shine no matter how much society tries to cajole you into thinking or acting a certain way.
Why give co-workers so much power over you when you know everyone is only there to make money? Why try to conform to your friends' or partner's ideals when you know your relationship can end at any point in time (we've all been there)?
Unless the individual in question pays your bills, has gotten you out of major jams on numerous occasions, or has done something that makes you indebted to him or her (e.g., saved your life), there's no reason to care so much about what that person thinks of you.
We come into this world alone, and we leave alone just the same. The only person you should aim to please is yourself. Remain in control of your thoughts and actions. Never let another human being hold sway over how you should live your life. Don't change unless you want to!