To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
That’s it; Ralph Waldo’s quote epitomizes what personal success truly means.
It may sound very obvious, but the challenge becomes, as with most things in life, how we put it into practice. How to remain true to ourselves, and survive the consequences. That’s the main dilemma most people face throughout their entire lives.
We all live in an extremely categorized society, founded on well-established doctrines, classes, and patterns that have been deeply ingrained in our minds, generation after generation, for thousands of years.
From the day we are born we are inculcated the beliefs, morals and habits of our family, which tend to coincide with the traditional patterns of the society our family belongs to. We see how our parents, professors, classmates and co-workers, all follow the existing models, without a word of complaint.
We are taught, very early in our lives, that those who attempt to challenge the standards, are immediately labeled as insane or radical, and treated as a threat to the rest of the society. If you decide to go against the rules, there will be negative consequences. We must obey and comply with the established norms. We must fit in the pattern. We must be “Normal”. That´s what we are trained to do.
The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. – Friedrich Nietzsche
As a result, most people spend most of their lives pretending. So many people live a life they do not want, and do things that do not enjoy, and end up, as they grow older, realizing that maybe, they would have been better off being a little bit abnormal. Being the person they always wanted to be. Doing the things they always dreamt of doing. Being themselves.
That´s the key reason self-actualization, becomes a chimera for most people. Self-actualization can only be achieved when the individual realizes and achieves her/his full potential.
Abraham Maslow defined self-actualization as the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for the individual to become actualized in what s/he is potentially, in the person s/he wants to be. Our ability to express and exploit our full potential.
So the question becomes:
How can an individual self-actualize, if the society he lives in, expects her/him to be someone s/he is not, and if when s/he tries, the society punishes and discriminates her/him?
The list below summarizes the ten most common mistakes most people end up regretting somewhere down the road.
- Studying something you did not like
- Doing jobs you do not enjoy
- Living in a place you do not like
- Buying things you do not need or can´t afford
- Marrying someone you do not love
- Having kids you did not want to have
- Spending time with people you do not like
- Going to places you do not enjoy
- Saying things you do not believe
- Worrying about things you do not need to worry
You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.” ― Mandy Hale
I guess, at the end of the day, it is all a question of choices and consequences. It is a question of taking the soft or the hard road, and this is entirely our choice.
I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself – Rita Mae Brown
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