Have you noticed how, these days saying someone is weird is practically a compliment? I think that we have reached a time where most young people feel they have to be different from what they understand to be the acceptable social norm. Now, I’m not even going to delve into how people’s understanding of the social norm often grossly varies from the reality. But, I have been trying to understand why it is that when most people set out to be “unique” and “different,” they mostly strive for the same brand of uniqueness – usually the particular brand that society has come to love and fight for its acceptance.
These days, in America at least, we young ‘uns are being encouraged – even hounded – to be different, to be unique, to be quirky, to be the maverick, to embrace the weirdness, and let your freak flag fly! Because, apparently, you have the right to be whatever/whomever you want to be…but if that thing or person is not weird enough or quirky enough…hmm? Well, it should be! Right?
“Don’t let society put YOU in a box,” they say. Meanwhile, society has sort of created a box for those ones who say they don’t want to be in a box, and most of our “aspiring” mavericks are running right into it to be catalogued.
Now, there are people who are truly quirky and eccentric, and people who are truly rebellious in nature – who can’t sit still, have to challenge authority and accepted social conventions because it’s in every fiber of their being. And you would think that at a time like this, life would be very easy for these ones, and they will be wholly accepted, but that isn’t always the case. Here is why: these truly eccentric ones are usually the ones whose way of life, or dressing for instance is strange and different but not necessarily cool. They are the ones who people don’t necessarily want to emulate.
Allow me to illustrate: towards the end my time in college, I met this guy, who would truly qualify as strange in your book if you saw him, I guarantee it. Before that, I had seen him around campus quite a few times, and he always managed to pass on the sense that there was something nonconformist about him, but it wasn’t always the flattering kind. I mean, he would walk around bare-foot and on his tip toes, his clothes were far from what would be considered normal, even his backpack seemed to have been made out of a sack (like the kind in which big bags of rice are sold, but smaller). I eventually got to meet and have a conversation with this guy, and he happened to be very sweet and sincere, and you could tell that he was just BEing. He wasn’t going out of his way to be different, he ate, and lived, and walked, and dressed, and was the way he was – it wasn’t forced.
So, maybe we should all just be who we truly are. A lot of times, when this message is preached, it pressures people whose weirdness isn’t as apparent to feel like they are too controlled, or too conservative, or… (dun! dun!! dun!!!) MAINSTREAM – a word that has come to be derogatory.
So, you’re not all that quirky like that guy on campus. So, weird and rebellious isn’t necessarily your thing. So, you love vanilla and plain khakis. So, you don’t particularly like dressing in what counts as weird clothing, and wouldn’t try something outrageous if you didn’t think it would make you look and feel cooler. So, what? Simply be yourself!
You see, when someone tries so hard to be unique and different – if it doesn’t come naturally – she or he just ends up becoming a caricature of who they want to be, morphed with who they really are, if at all the latter part manages to shine through.
I mean, at this rate, we may get to a point where what was conventional a few years ago and what is considered conventional now, will become the new avant-garde. So, be patient. If you’ve read up to this point, let me know what you think – Am I right, or am I right?