Since we each became part of this crazy, wonderful, heartbreaking world, we have been trying to squeeze ourselves into these awkwardly shaped, uncomfortable boxes – like the feeling after an alcohol fueled night – we are constantly on edge, pretty disgustingly sweaty, with just a touch of anxiety to finish it off. This image I’ve riled up in your mind – never a pleasant one, I know – is what I envision all of us to resemble when we are stuffed into our individual boxes. In other words…striving to be what society has told us that we should be, and being pressured into being something almost criminal – something other than ourselves.
These boxes I write of are identical and I can see them now stacked up next to one another – mirroring each other in size and shape. And here in lies the problem…ah good old societal norms. We are never all going to fit into the same shape and size of box because we are so beautifully and wildly different from one another, and increasingly, in recent years, this has been looked upon as negative. Society has drilled it into our brains that we should mirror each other, both physically and mentally. Why? Fear; fear of our brilliant minds, fear that we might want something different to the path mapped out for us, fear of a higher form of consciousness.
The concept of a norm is something which has puzzled me for as long as I can remember. A concept which I ultimately questioned and challenged through my University dissertation in the form of mental health. I won’t go into that side of it as you wouldn’t thank me for those endless ramblings. But food for thought – who are we to call an individual crazy because they don’t conform to a set of normative values dictated by society? I indicated in my dissertation that, perhaps, it is the structure and regulations within society in which the sickness lies – one which insists that our minds must all work in similar ways – rather than at the fault of those individuals who refuse to conform to such absurd assumptions.
This normative set of ideals has long dictated the everyday desires of individuals in Western society. With a life ever more focused on screens; phones, TVs, laptops – we are always distracted by one of them – we are in turn ever more aware of what normative behaviours and ideals we should be chasing. We are plagued daily by unrealistic body images, by advertisements which dictate what materialistic objects we ‘need’, what we should invest our money towards in order to be considered sexy, happy or successful.
Consumerist advertising and obsessive consumption, in my opinion, is one of the leading causes of insecurity and unhappiness. We are constantly being told, in Western society, that we are not enough – that simply being ourselves is not enough. Why? Because happiness doesn’t sell. If you are happy living a minimalist life and perhaps have a deeper understanding of what brings you inner peace, then how would businesses sell anti-ageing cream, or the latest sports car, or a new, expensive lipstick? Happiness doesn’t sell, and that is why I urge you to step away from the monotonous background noise of the TV and, instead, step towards places and people and activities which make you feel alive.
The problem is that we have been conditioned to consider difference as weirdness instead of as amazing. But weirdness is amazing, and it is a struggle in this life to find your weirdness and be OK with it. Because people judge you – they judge you for NOT being like them, for stepping out into the unknown and screaming, for no other reason than because it feels good to scream. Whenever I start to fall back into a monotonous routine, I remember that the world needs people to come alive – it doesn’t need you fall in line with everyone else, it doesn’t need another 9-5 worker who wears pretty dresses and says all the right things, no..it needs someone who steps out of line, someone who is so amazingly different that people stop and stare.
It is difficult to break down the walls on your box of normality and finally become yourself. But you must. You must question everything – everything you believe to be right – and instead, search for your own voice, rather than an answer which you have adopted from a lifetime of being docile to societal norms. You have to strip back the layers and search for what makes you shine, because this life is about so much more than just getting through the day. It is about breathing fresh air, it’s about adventuring, experiencing other cultures and finding that thing which makes you come alive.
So please, bulldoze down those walls of your box, step out into the blinding sun, feel the grass between your toes and be truly alive. Find your weirdness and chase it to wherever it may take you. And when people question what you’re doing, and give you strange looks, just smile and nod…for they are only jealous that you are comfortable in your weirdness, and they are still stuck in the box.
Rock on the mad hatters and crazy cats of this world…and thank you for making me see that most days should be spent covered in glitter and hanging in hammocks.
You are more than a label. You are more than a box. You are more than the latest product you are told to buy.
You are you.
So go, be weird and wonderful, and unapologetically yourself.
Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman
Be weird. Be wonderful. 🙂