Conformity? I don’t know her. ~ IsleOfAtlas
Conformity? I don’t know her.
A Beginners Manifesto on How to Be Yourself
DISCLAIMER: Don’t read this if you’re not ready to question what you already know.
“I never had to think for myself before GCSEs,
and I was never able to live for myself before uni.”
I remember saying this a while ago to my friends in passing. However, upon reflection, I realised there was more to this than I initially believed. As an outsider, I learnt the hard way that society won’t fully accept me for being who I am. And that’s okay – no need to shy away from who I truly am to fulfil the expectations of a society who’s views change on a regular. This liberty of thought afforded me permission to explore myself holistically, without discrimination or worry of consequence.
Below are a couple commendable points I’ve considered from my experience.
Shrug off the shackles of social validation
Top of my list. Before one can claim they think for themselves, they must first separate conscious thoughts and desires from society’s suggestions. Basically, can you indicate to areas in your life where you can say you played an active role in the decision-making process?
Did you want to go to uni, or did your parents force this commitment on you?
Do you enjoy what you do? Or do you find security in what you do?
Do you really need a new pair of shoes? Or is the FBI agent monitoring your phone really on job?
The truth is, we’re all influenced by something. But if we fail to recognise our individual thoughts amongst the many automatic processes and systems, then we find ourselves bound by these same systems. And to go beyond the norm, we must be able to think outside the box.
Sometimes, we allow tweets to live in our heads rent free. That’s the truth of it. The popularity of subjective opinions over objective truth has the world constantly overrun, and sometimes we get caught in the riptide. But, when we’re alone with our thoughts, what do we allow ourselves to think?
It really begins with asking yourself a simple question: what do you like? What you’re naturally attracted to is a good starting point as any for investigating what you’re really like (read that again).
If you’re not sure, that’s okay. I would recommend checking this out – http://awindyday.co.uk/2020/07/finding-your-passion/ .
Expression How You See Fit
An outlet of expression is paramount to being able to understand how you think. It’s literally a receipt of your thoughts. Whether it be art, dance, journaling, poetry writing, blog writing, voice note diaries and more! Finding a creative outlet not only provides a space for you to project your thoughts unapologetically but also provides a record of your state of mind for you to reflect on later in your self-development journey. It can also be a space to vent how you see fit (which we all need to do from time to time).
Be you, unapologetically – Get out of your way
Pay closest attention to the inner you that arises when your inhibitions are down – when you’re hungry, angry etc.
How do you respond?
Do you care how you respond?
I only ask these questions because, in these moments, you are less capable of processing how to react through socially appropriated lens. Instead, you react in a manner which I would describe as the rawest version of you. How you are most comfortable reacting in that moment, takes the least thought. Over time, our default mannerisms, once identified, can be appropriated and changed to best fit an expression of who we believe we are. And so, how we react is ultimately determined by our beliefs of who we are. A person who doesn’t believe they’re deserving of a level of respect will never stand up for themselves (should an occasion to do so arise).
What I believe we all can take from this is to put ourselves in more situations which requires decisiveness and learn from past encounters. Why? You learn more about who you see yourself to be.
What next? If you don’t like what you see, change it. Identify what you want to emulate and begin walking in it immediately.
A quick confidence booster: when you feel lacking in confidence, power pose.
- Correct your posture
- Hold your head high
- Puff out your chest
- Stand up straight.
It may feel fake, but your body won’t know the difference. Luckily, our perception of ourselves is one choice (above many) within our control.
At 16, with GCSEs in hand, I felt like I didn’t know what to do with myself. I could not register a time when I had expressed interest or decided independent of influences around me.
Quite simply put, I had an identity crisis.
To overcome this, I started again. I left everything behind I thought I knew and questioned everything. I became committed to the development of my character as independent of everything I once knew.
Looking back, summer ‘16 was one of the best summers of my life so far. It was the summer where I was able to dig into my interests, figure out what was necessary for my growth and if possible, what I could avoid. However, this process only began once I was willing to accept that I knew nothing.
Whilst this may seem overly dramatic, accepting my understanding of my then-existence as invalid allowed me to ask the questions my inner self had held back on for a lifetime. Humbling myself to this extent has made me the person I am today, and I’m grateful for it.
So, my recommendation? Question everything. The answers you find will be more fulfilling than you realise.