I grew up with children, teenagers and adults who were all the same. They were all members of the same religion, shopped at the same two stores, looked practically identical and acted the same. It was like growing up around a bunch of clones; every girl and boy was so uniform.
It seemed like my friends, family and neighbors didn’t have an independent bone in their body. Like they never doubted what their parents told them, what their religious leaders were preaching or what society told them to think. Like my peers, people told me what to think, how to dress, how to act and who to become.
But I was different.
I didn’t want anything to do with that. I questioned everything. I questioned the cookie-cutter mold, the teachings of the dominant religion, the ideals of society and rebelled endlessly, trying to find my place in the community.
“By doubting we are lead to questioning, by questioning we arrive at the truth.” – Peter Abelard.
When I was in elementary school I was one of the only girls in my class who didn’t talk endlessly about becoming a mother someday. I always wanted to be a career person. I figured if I did have a family it would be something I would do along with my career, IfI could find someone who I could stand to be with for a long time (which I didn’t think was possible).
My way of seeing the world was not considered normal. My classmates in church and school practically got degrees, certificates and diplomas in marriage 101. They were obsessed with dating and trying to find “the one”. Or at least someone” who seemed alright so they could get married and check that off their eternal salvation to-do list. This made their parents very happy.
That didn’t seem right to me. I always thought that if you were going to get married, you might as well be with someone who makes you happier than anyone else in the world; settling for someone should never be an option.
I was an independent person living in a world full of dependent peers.
I know that I can do anything in life by myself. I take pride in the fact that I can take care of myself. The people around me just seemed to be waiting for their someone” to fulfill a role expected of everyone by their church leaders, school teachers and families. And with each passing year, my peers continued to search for their someone” and not question society’s ideals; like their parents and grandparents had done before them, without hesitation.
I often feel like I’m living in George Orwell’s classic book 1984; a place that fears individuality and discourages questioning and doubting. I am the Winston of my own 1984 story and I am looked down upon for thinking outside of the box and living life my by own rules.
“Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” – 1984.
I am waiting; constantly waiting for everyone else to become conscious. Independence is not a bad thing. Being different from your peers will make you unique, not just another person in the fold. Like all of the different animals in the ecosystem, our different ways of living life can work cohesively. I’m not asking people to change what they believe, what they want out of life or how they want to live their life. My only hope is that people break the mold, will stop trying to be like everyone else and quit making life choices based on other people’s standards.
Be the person you truly are. Be brave enough to stand up for yourself and own your fears, questions and doubts. Don’t be a blind follower to religion, society and family. Follow teachings and standards because you are a strong, independent person who believes with the utmost certainty that you are living your life the way you want to.
And if you don’t like society’s rules, have the courage to live by your own.