We live in a world of image. A place where you are bombarded with images of what you should be, what you should want, how you should live and what your standards should be. We can’t all keep up with the Kardashians and nor should we want to. These images of a perfect, idealised life that have been force-fed to us in every medium available are the rampant, uncontrolled excesses of branding and are not projections of our own. Independently of each other they are harmless enough and can be great canvasses for creativity, but the relentless onslaught by which we are inexorably bombarded by these depictions of this perfect world full of perfect people affects our perception of our own world and place in it.
Sure, those clothes look nice on that model and that phone has some new technology that yours might not, those people drinking those coloured drinks in a straw hut on the beach look like they’re having fun.. but when you consider the concentration and frequency of these adverts of luxury it takes on a more worrying collective propagandist tone.
Don’t limit yourself to someone else’s expectations.
Of course, you’re free to pick and choose what you want from those adverts you see as you flick past them in your magazine or while they move past you on your ride into work- but how free are you really? Can we really be free to make choices about what we want as individuals when all we are told we want by these advertisements is what every person in our demographic wants on the basis of the sampling of focus group research?
And it’s not just that we are told that we should want these things but that everyone else wants these things too. That we would not be alone if we subscribe to the depicted lifestyles item by item- that’s the implicit thread of message that links all of these glamorous glimpses into a life you can never really have but can break your psyche, sense of self-worth and your bank balance trying to attain.
That homogenisation of society is dangerous in these terms, not just in the short run of being a few pennies short on your groceries towards the end of the month but also in the long run of not just your own life but your children’s and grandchildren’s.
If we are all being peer-pressured into the same spending habits and style then being different becomes an exclusionary offense. You should be free to be whoever you are and whatever you want to be and so should the next generation. If we allow those freedoms to be taken away from us then there’s even less to be taken away from those who come after us.
We have a responsibility to each other to take care of ourselves and respect ourselves and thereby take care of each other’s rights by protecting the right of the individual to express themselves in whatever words, clothes, music or lifestyle choices they want.
If you do something or act or dress in a certain way that is neither harmful to yourself nor others and yet you are told to do or be a different way: refuse. That person does not appreciate you for who you are or maybe doesn’t even know who you are to the extent that they might begin to have any qualification to make any such statement.
Yes, it might seem easier at the time to simply conform to a trend to “fit in” and be one of the group but when you make that decision to settle for blending in then you won’t be recognised for who you really are. There will never be another one of you. There might be those who have similarities or even those who try to impersonate you in whatever way but holding on to who you are when everyone else wants you to be just like them is a virtue unlike any other.
Allow yourself the freedom that people have died to live for
One’s sense of self and the right to individualism is what inspires others to have the simple bravery to embrace who they are. Sometimes it can take a lot of guts to be yourself, and no matter how hard or easy it is: the value is the same — the value of that freedom is priceless.
Do not let go of who you are or what makes you happy nor let it be prised from your clasp. However big or small those things are that you cherish and figure into your identity must be retained. Nurture your passions. If you like to paint sunsets on the beach, or wear clothes from the 1920’s, or have tea parties with your pet iguana then encourage that in yourself. Allow yourself the freedom that people have died to live for. The results will see your growth as a person soar in every conceivable way. Your confidence, imagination and likeability will yield you results that you can only measure in smiles.
You can’t just adopt someone else’s loves or habits, even if you tried you wouldn’t get out of it what they do.
By being that unique and irreplaceable person you are you are bound by the inevitable laws of destiny and statistics to find someone that loves you exactly that way.
There are a lot of wonderful people in the world who can amaze you in all sorts of ways but finding that true human connection and creating a bond naked of pretense or illusion is what separates the one from the few from the many.
When you take a stand for yourself, as yourself, you take a stand for everyone else everywhere to be themselves too.
Originally published at medium.com