However, our society creates ideals of popularity and beauty that are based on conformity, not individuality. From the moment we start school, we are expected to fall in line and do as all of our classmates are doing. We buy the same school supplies, the same Trapper Keepers, the same styles of clothing (if we aren't wearing uniforms), the same lunch boxes, the same cell phones… the list goes on and on. While we might pick different colors or patterns, the overall items are the same. We conform to peer pressure and want to buy the products that will make us fit in well.
Likewise, our behavior and personalities are meant to conform to certain ideals. In my childhood, the teachers who embraced independent thinkers were rare. Most wanted students to behave according to certain standards and to think like the masses. Students who questioned authority or the “truth” that was being taught were not lauded. Instead, they are branded as trouble-makers. Most of the authority around me, including teachers and parents, wanted the next generation to be safely molded into the same form as they had been.
Despite these attempts of our society to enforce conformity, we are all individuals. We are all different. And while our outsides “might not look like much,” we all are filled with our own charm and beauty. Through embracing our differences, we actually find ways of being ourselves. If we all were truly alike, life would be really boring! As you go about your day today, offer gratitude for one of your qualities that makes you different from others. Likewise, find a way to appreciate the differences in the people around you, whether at home, school or work. Even if you find those differences to be challenging, try to accept that those differences are challenges can make you grow as an individual. Through trying to appreciate the strengths we all have in our differences, we will find the world is a much more beautiful place than we normally think.
© 2015 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC