“The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone, is more likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.” - Albert Einstein
Who are you? Who am I?
Does identity matter if all you are is what others require you to be?
What is the significance of identity when you are what others require you to be- the stereotypical and unconventional you.*
In our society no one is truly happy. Unrealistic standards distort our reality and perception of ourselves. Insecurity and doubt is inescapable. The glass screens of our devices reflect off all that we are not… I’m sure you know all this all too well. To answer the question above I am Cynthia Aung and I find it quite ironic of me to be writing this since ‘Cynthia’ is not my birth name- alien to my identity. What does it mean to be a sheep? When you are called sheep you are typically referred to as someone who is easily influenced by the action and opinions, and beliefs of others out of fear of not fitting in. From larger instances like being peer pressured into actions you're reluctant doing, to smaller instances like daily decisions.
Let’s face it. Everyone has acted sheepishly multiple times in their life. It’s inevitable. Following the crowd is a human instinct. We feel the need to surround ourselves with others when lonely. We were made to interact with one another which made us vulnerable to the desire to blend in.
But, there is a fine line between yearning to belong and becoming sheepish.
Identity makes you who you are; belonging to a group should co-exist with that. The two are not meant to excuse each other. Contrasting identities brings individuals together; unique bonds and new ideas are formed. Just imagine a homogenous population. 7 billion of the same personality. Divergence makes us unique and gives us individuality, plus, scientifically speaking- 7 billion of the same person can cause everyone to be infected by the same disease and possibly have humankind wiped out; if the world had the same people we would have been dead from Covid months ago). Separate your identity from stereotypes. Simply because your identity is stereotyped, you are in no way obliged to follow those rules or act a certain type of way for the pleasure and entertainment of others. There is a ‘perfect male’, ‘ perfect female’ and ‘perfect human’ gender mold that we feel a need to fit into. This is where the terms such as ‘toxic masculinity’ has risen. Due to the standards such as; ‘masculine’, ‘apathetic' and ‘man of the house’ that has been put upon males, many struggle to express themselves and find themselves trying to fit into the stereotype set for them.
A fellow friend of mine commented:
“I struggled with my identity when moving from place to place. I come from Australia. Living in Singapore as someone who lived in Australia most of my life gave me a culture shock. It was surprising how diverse and unique everyone was. Society has standards for men to be strong and apathetic. That affected me whenever I was feeling down and someone said man up. I feel the need to belong with others and start conversations to avoid loneliness. This has made me do some sheepish things in the past.”
These stereotypical gender roles and unrealistic standards leaves an effect on today's society, more so to adolescents in search of their true identity. Moreover, countless numbers of people have attempted to break the misconceptions and expectations. Take renowned artist Harry Styles for example; the first male in vogue in feminine clothing. Although I can argue that clothing has no gender, the clothing that he and several other feminine dressed men wear is often criticized by many for not dressing as the typically assigned clothing. I find it inspiring that there are people like him that are encouraging others to differentiate themselves from what is expected of them. I hope that this article has opened your eyes and will help you find who you truly are without the restrictions of expectations on you.
Fun Fact: Scientifically speaking- 7 billion of the same person can cause everyone to be infected by the same disease and possibly have humankind wiped out; if the world had the same people we would have been dead from Covid months ago.
This post was edited by Jessica Kerisna.