On Individuality

What value do we place on individuality?

Why is just being yourself so difficult?   Being comfortable in your own skin meeting the world as it meets us will often place us in situations that test our resolve.  When we persuade ourselves to be something we are not, when we try to convince ourselves to do something we should not in reaction to some event that confronts us simply because we are doubting our true identity, we risk losing our inner sense of perspective and betray our true selves.  It is hard to predict the outcomes, but I think we may little by little lose ourselves to conformity.  For a nonconformist, conformity is the slowest form of suicide.

Is social pressure greater to our sense of belonging that we must struggle to subdue our own individuality?  In art and music, individuality is highly praised, even though many artists are inspired by others before them, they create something anew from something that has gone before, putting their own fingerprint on it somehow, someway.  I believe there is a strong correlation between self confidence and individuality.

Perhaps we just have not found ourselves, know how we fit into a situation and we therefore try on different persona’s to see how they fare?  We may not have a strong sense of self and adopt others styles, attitudes, or opinions for convenience so that we can be a part of something.  We try on these persona’s like they are clothing, interchanging our identities as if they are fashion items, and discarding them when they go out of style.  Wanting to fit in is a very strong motivator when we want to be a part of something and often leads us to behave in like manner in our social gatherings.  Surprisingly we will also follow in kind with our logic and ethical thought.

Being human, and testing out new perspectives on ourselves can have healthy outcomes.  It is when we force ourselves to adopt principles that we may not fully understand or endorse that alienate us from our true selves, or our moral selves that may cause us to have doubt during this time, yet we continue to behave in ways that we are not completely aligned with.   The cognitive dissonance may eventually change us if this occurs as we may possibly be forced to alter our opinion, or alter our behavior to once again align for there to be intellectual and behavioral cohesion.

The problem for many is that they do not think about the consequences of their behaviors or thoughts, they have not given their position a full understanding, and are often lost to the potential pitfalls of reasoning or behaving.  The lifestyle choice they have adopted may bring them elements that are not bargained for in their initial reckoning of it.  This is of course what every human experiences on some level since we are not perfect beings, we fail, make mistakes in our judgements, and therefore modify our thinking or behavior after we test it out in the world.  The notion of applying our common sense, and pragmatically living by learning from our mistakes is a common denominator that is experienced worldwide and has graced the teachings of Confucius, Buddha, American Pragmatism, and other thinkers though-out the ages.

When learning something new, one should worry about being unable to reach it.  When one has learnt something, one should worry about forgetting it. 

Confucius

It is complementary to adopt another persons influence on us when we demonstrate the impact they have on us.  We model their behavior by doing what they have done.  We see the world through another perspective, but a line should be drawn when we blur the distinction so much that we lose ourselves in living another persons vision.  Blind impersonation is merely an imitation, to make it your own, one should adapt it to a vision that is personalized and reflects a view unique to you.  Making the decisions to adopt things learned in a social environment is normal and expected.  To make them work for you is up to you and your deployment of these pearls of wisdom.  What I found most interesting during the younger years of my journey was the expectations of others in my encounters.  The social interactions between strangers, and even friends often surprised me.  As I grew older and experienced more, these conventions of conduct became more and more familiar to me, allowing me to navigate with more certainty.

Differing opinion on how we see the world is the basis for our differing on how we should proceed in the maze of human conduct.  The point of singularity that changed me was when I adopted a corporate philosophy and core value system espoused to me by the company I worked for which my leadership did not wholly adopt with any sense of integrity, and therefore left me disillusioned thinking that they would follow the rules of conduct that they taught me.  The larger the group, the stickier the code of conduct may become.  The politics of being human has many inequitable outcomes for different people.

I can safely say that no matter what philosophy an entity adopts, following it is an entirely different question and much more important.  The adoption of ideas are only as good as the behaviors that demonstrate them, namely: behavior is more powerful than words.

So I say one should be themselves in this world as much as one can be.  The convergence of the pool of individuality is constantly blurred in the grand scheme of things and enters into a social construct of conformity.  But also is the unique perspectives of individuals that should be held in high esteem, for there is no learning without climbing upon others shoulders to see what could not be seen before.  The necessary progression of advancing is often helped by those around us.


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