There is something about fitting in, that no matter what our age is, we all want to belong to a certain tribe. That sense of belonging-ness gives us a sort of comfort and therefore early on, we unassumingly start falling into the stereotypical slots that the society has created.
We start identifying with one particular group more than the other starting right from our school days. You should either belong to a popular group or a studious nerdy group or an athletic sporty kind-a group and so on. And these groups have a collective set of characteristics that is reflected invariably in all the members of that group. If a person deviates a bit from the set norms then he is looked down upon as an outcast. And God forbid, if you don’t identity with any of these said groups, then you are a misfit in the society; And that’s how our journey of belonging somewhere starts. It is handed out as a multiple choice questionnaire of sorts; you have to choose one group, either ‘A’ , ‘B’ or ‘C’ and mind it, there is no ‘all of the above’ option here.
It doesn’t stop there. Even as adults, whether in work-spaces or social circles, this need to belong and identify with a certain group continues. I have seen people obsessed with the need to belong so much so that they would say or do things as per the said expectations of the group ideology even if it sometimes completely clashes with their own ideals.
The stereotypes are not just limited to who we are inside but also how we look on the outside too…appearance, dressing, accessories et al. You have to look the part too, you know. I mean, if you are a serious writer then you must wear Khadi clothes and have a jholna bag (sort of ragged cloth bag) and of course the look is not complete without the forlorn faraway look, big glasses and all. I am not saying this happens one hundred percent but just trying to portray the general expectation of people. (Now don’t jump up in defense because I know, not all of them fall into it and people are breaking these stereotypes in great style, of course. This is just to drive my point across)
Why do we have to follow any stereotypes at all? You don’t have to do what others have been doing? You could be a nature-lover / farmer and wear stylish trendy clothes, you know what I mean? This need to use a certain lingo or dress up a certain way or attend certain events to be a part of the group, has to go. Your thoughts need not necessarily match with the group either. We are thinking, evolving and constantly changing beings, so we have a right to our own opinions about things. I have found myself at loggerheads at various instances when I couldn’t agree with what my tribe (the one I thought I belonged to) was saying but always chose to state my opinion even if it didn’t sit well with the group. It had put me in a spot at times but I always felt better doing what I felt was right. But it’s easier said than done.
We are all unique with diverse interests and characteristics. Then why try to fall into any one particular tribe…be part of many different and diverse groups. There is no right or wrong way. Somehow I see this clarity coming in only as we grow older…the younger generation is still in the clutches of these stereotypes.
We need to understand that these are our own creation and we seriously need to break free from it. Do what works for us and what makes us happy instead of forever trying to fit into an ill-fitting mould.
Be who you are; own it and embrace it with all your inadequacies and flaws.
We don’t have to follow a stereotype of what the social norms dictate. Take the road less travelled if that’s what you want. People may not approve but that’s okay. Decide what you want to do and how much you want to do. Not guided by pressure but by pure happiness.
Trust your own gut instinct. Make your own decisions. If things work out, then great! You will live to tell the story of your success. If not, great again; you will be that unique person who stood out instead of following the herd. Both ways, it’s a win-win situation.
Be multi-skilled and open-minded. Pick up what you enjoy. Everything around you is changing constantly, so why shouldn’t you too? Listen to your own self.
I see a lot of that change happening around me, now more than ever. And that’s a welcome change.
Do your own thing – the motivations have to come from within you and nowhere else. So please, no templates or cookie cutter moulds to restrict you.
No road maps. Chart your own journey. Create your own path.
Do what makes you happy; do what makes sense to you even if it doesn’t to others.
This journey belongs to you, flawed or otherwise – not to anybody else.
So live it; love it…sans the stereotypes.
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