Sounds like repeating the obvious but I have been thinking, recently, about what this really means.
There have been a number of occasions in the past few months where I have nodded in dumb agreement because I have not dared to say –
No, actually, I don’t agree with that
No thank you, that film’s not really for me.
This has been slightly worrying. I’d kind of assumed that, by this point, I’d know – and feel confident in articulating – where I stood.
We were in a bar last night talking about individuality versus conformity and it made me realise that there is a tension and a complexity that I might have underestimated. That conformity is driven by the very human desires for acceptance and reassurance – and yet it is our differences and individuality which make us stand out.
If we do not say what we really think, then it is impossible for other people to work out who we are; and, if we are constantly conforming, the same challenge becomes true for us.
This is why I have, at times, felt a little lost.
Conformity is precarious and unreliable because the standards are ever-shifting and it is easy, therefore, to feel chameleon-like as you bend to fit in.
So I have been thinking about how you hold onto yourself without bowing to that pressure. How you develop the courage to disagree and to value your opinion in the same way as you might value someone else’s. How you work out what that opinion might be which is, in itself, no mean feat*…
I suppose the first step is tuning into the times where what you say grates with what you are feeling; and the next, unpicking what the fear is behind speaking –
And then remembering that it is these differences which make the world far more interesting and are part of how we challenge what we think.
*This article really fascinated me last week. It’s about how we form opinions and adds a whole other dimension to this debate.