You’re having dinner with some of your closest friends. The food is delicious, the wine is relaxing, and the conversation brings back fond memories. All of a sudden, one of your friends says something you don’t like. Your other friends are offended, or maybe you are, and you think the person who has said or done this terrible thing must be scolded and corrected. They cannot be allowed to behave this way. After all, people were offended so that not so good friend must be made to apologize and change their behavior. By making them act and speak like you and your other friends think or want them to, you have done something far worse than they could. You are enforcing your will or the groups will upon them and stealing from them their very identity and well-being.
Accepted social norms. They vary from every culture and region in the world. They tell us how to act. They determine our place in our society, and they tell us who we get to be. I’m sure most sociologists will argue this a good thing because it gives us a sense of self as a member of a community and helps us to work together to form those communities. After all, we could not accomplish what we have as a species without building those fundamental civilizational building blocks. At what cost? Is all that we have done, all the diseases we’ve cure and all the hurdles we’ve cleared worth the sacrifice of knowing who we are, as an individual?
Think again the next time you correct someone and tell them they can’t say that, they can’t act like that or that they can’t be that. Group morality changes like the seasons. What the world wants you to be and who you are, can and should be two different things. You have to find that out for yourself, but while you’re doing this, you must keep two things in mind. Am I doing this for me, because I want it? But more importantly, am I trying to get someone to behave how I think they should because that’s what everyone says? Every day of your life, everywhere you go, someone somewhere is going to try to tell you what to do and how to behave. Choosing to be yourself is going to keep you in a state of uncertainty, and you’ll be shunned quite often. Despite that, you can have the most fulfilling thing anyone can ever have. You can be yourself, be confident in who you are and know the friends and loved ones you have, genuinely know, love and respect you. You’ll never have to do the double think, double speak, double take.
The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.
– George Orwell