Instead of simply mooing with the herd, value yourself for who you are.
From early childhood we are trained in how (and who) we are to be. This is really important for things such as: learning where it is appropriate to relieve yourself; how to speak what will be your native tongue; how to read and write; how to adapt if you are not physically able to do any of the above things. This training is called socialization and is defined thusly by Merriam-Webster:
so·cial·i·za·tion | \ˌsō-sh(ə-)lə-ˈzā-shən \
Definition of socialization
1a : the process beginning during childhood by which individuals acquire the values, habits, and attitudes of a society
If you want to smooth your path in life, sharing the “values, habits, and attitudes” of your society is the way to go. We have survived all the way from pre-recorded time through to the 21st century. Some of these values, habits, and attitudes are what made it possible for us actually to be alive! Like, wash your hands, man! It is common knowledge that touching things other people touch, eat, etc. with dirty hands is a great way to spread germs around.
(For anyone wanting a refresher on hand washing, here’s a YouTube video posted by the World Health Organization!)
Hand washing is common knowledge NOW, but in 1865 Ignaz Semmelweis was locked in an asylum for attempting to convince his contemporaries that clean hands matter! (If you’re interested in hand-washing history, you can read more here on this hand hygiene blog. Yes, you really can blog about anything.)
That’s the pro-side to the socialization gig. (Well, that and things like how we shouldn’t kill other people, even when they are really, REALLY irritating.) Now let’s move onto the part of socialization that may not benefit us as much. This is the part has more to do with fitting in and being “good enough.”
Western society as a whole is a lot like middle school. Stay with me here. In order to be one of the cool kids, you have to look a certain way, wear certain things, blend in while standing out, and be neither too smart nor too dumb. At least this is how it was in my middle school years, and what I get from my admittedly restricted intake of pop culture tells me the Rule of Cool hasn’t changed all that much for anyone. A simple run down the check out line at the grocery store tells a lot. Family-style magazines, fashion magazines, and teen magazines alike all flash their headlines of what you need to be a cool kid.
I’m raising the BS flag. Take a moment to assess yourself. Odds are more than good that you are no longer in middle school. While this behavior is certainly not to be encouraged or condoned among middle-schoolers, they have, at least, the excuse/explanation of fluctuating hormones and synapses being pruned in their brains. The rest of us, acting on our impulses to be a cool kid, are trudging along in the rut that was formed during those years and led by the people who make money by keeping us in that rut. Often, we don’t even realize we are walking that tired path.
It’s time to be who you really are. If people were all meant to be the same and do the same things as all the other people, Tinder would never have been created, blind dates (or any dates) would be irrelevant, no one would care about getting to second base, and cloning would be the “in” way to populate the planet.
The kids inside of us may want to keep up with the Kardashians, but the people we respect and look up to tend toward the Ghandis, Madame Curies, and Einsteins of the world. You don’t have to read their biographies to know they were not just going along with the rest of the herd.
Maybe it’s uncomfortable for you to step out of the rut. A rut is a path that has been worn down for a long time, after all. If it helps to have someone give you permission to be/feel/do/believe in whatever you want, Leoni Dawson probably has you covered in her poem, You Have Permission. Here is my favorite part:
You Have Permission, by Leoni Dawson
“You have permission to suck at a wide variety of activities. It’s okay. You make up for it with your million other brilliance particles.” You Have Permission, by Leonie Dawson
I want you to go back and re-read that quote. Read it a couple of times if you have to. I know I did. I read it, and read it again, and took a picture of it on my phone, and sent it to my husband, and posted it on Facebook on my page, and in The Gratitude Project, on Facebook, and sent it to a friend via text. I keep reading it. It’s something of a golden ray of light through a bank of clouds. It’s OKAY to be bad at things. It’s OKAY to be bad at things you think you should be good at doing. It’s OKAY to be bad at things where your best friend excels. It’s OKAY to be bad at things your S.O. thinks of as no-brainers. You are of such great value in a million other ways that it DOESN’T MATTER!
Here’s your homework: Take out a pen and paper, or get out your phone and make a note, or open your word processor and create a document. Start listing your brilliance particles. In the spirit of Leonie Dawson’s work, I tell you now you have permission not to make it to a million (today). Start with one. Add as many as you can think of adding but start with that one. Make it something you really truly believe because if you don’t believe it it’s not going to help you. “I make instant ramen better than anyone I know,” totally counts. I assure you there is something you can list.
The moment you focus on something good about yourself is the moment you are building your best self. The harder this exercise is for you, the more important it is for you to do it. The easier this exercise grows for you, the brighter you shine in the Universe around you. This is not merely accepting yourself; it is embracing your part of Everythingness.
It’s a trendy phrase, but it is also a timeless truth: You do you.
Brightest blessings, Sunny
If you want to review that hand-washing vid once again, here it is!