Be different. Be unique. Be original. The world screams these catchphrases out at every opportunity, be it at work, during interviews, personality, fashion, everywhere. “I like that girl, ’cause she’s different”, if I had a penny for every time that has been said. What does that even mean? To be different? Different from what, or who? How different? Everyone IS different, they think differently, they have had different experiences, have lived different lives, so why is there this obsession about being so utterly unique when to an extent, we already are?
We live in a world where if you follow the trend you’re seen as social sheep, and if you are too different, then you’re met with raised eyebrows and not-so-subtle whispers. Do you see where this is going? Neither side of the coin fosters comfort or security.
To be the same as everyone else, and to be so completely different are both equally desired as they are equally impossible. I know this because I have unashamedly wished to be on both sides. Trying to believe what everyone does, wear the same clothes, want the same things in hopes that maybe I would understand why people are obsessed about being a certain way. I can’t deny that in this case, I probably blended into the crowd of the “socially acceptable.” But the comfort and security that I expected did not come. I felt awkward, and untrue. I was changing my usual habits in order to be the same as everyone else, to hide under the blanket of unanimity. Despite my efforts, I did not understand what the whole fuss was about, where was the value in being a certain type of ‘perfect’? And in this realization, the whole act crumbled, leaving me feeling like the world’s worst fraud.
If being the same did not foster security, then maybe the key was to be so, completely different. Maybe doing everything different would free me from having to follow the conventions of being “normal”, a carte blanche of sorts. So I did things differently. I did things different to the way others would, sometimes without any reason at all. This new me was a lot more entertaining, a lot more creative and a lot more outgoing. But it was a strain, having to think of something “different”. Something that would impress, entertain, enlighten, awe all those who question my worth. Anything. On the outside, maybe I did do things different. Heck, I may have even had some brilliant streaks of originality. But on the inside, I was always wrecking my brain for more ideas, always second-guessing if I was different enough, always questioning why I was doing any of it at all.
And one fine day, I had enough of it. I was in the same place I had been at the end of my first phase. Exhausted. It all dawned on me a few days later, the reason why nothing felt right. The reason why I always felt like I was not good enough. Why I had no feeling of inner peace. Why there was so much friction even when things were supposed to be going smoothly. Why I felt like a fraud. In all my efforts to “discover” myself, I lost the essence of what it actually meant.
I started off trying to fit into pre-existing molds of the perfect friend/student/teen etc. that I didn’t realize I was losing parts of what made me Me. And after trying to rediscover myself, being different, unique, original, I thought the New Me would bring a flood of confidence, peace and self-worth. But see, I had it wrong all along. I was concentrating on being the New Me, rather than the Real Me. It was and is as simple as that. Being true to myself, my likes, dislikes and beliefs. I owned them. The reason I never felt like the world was working my way was simply because I was not living as Me. I was someone else, and how could I have expected to be happy when all this time, I was concentrating on being someone else’s idea of happy. It was time to stop caring what other people thought/did/believed/liked. It was time to stop trying to be what others expected me to be, and instead, start being whatever the hell I wanted to be.