Tragedy of trading your authenticity for approval

This sabotaging trade deal of disregarding who we really are in our desire for approval from mainstream society is super prevalent among individuals of today’s society and in my eyes, appears much like an epidemic. A huge factor in this is the big increase in social media usage in recent years. Social media provides a platform for people to gain ideas on what most people like and dislike, their interests, what’s ‘normal’ and what isn’t and last but definitely not least, beauty ideals which tell people exactly how a perfectly attractive man or woman should look and be like. Social media therefore creates shared ideas on these different aspects and strips society of the individuality, rawness and unique qualities that each individual has the potential to offer to society. People hold back for fear of not being accepted or ridiculed for their ideas. We hold back because it’s not what we know society wants to see or hear so we simply don’t express it and instead express a persona that aligns with society’s expectations. This way society is devoid of genuine expression, of new ideas and new perspectives; ideas and perspectives that potentially hold the key to advancement and to greatness.

As history tells us, the great were always people who defied society, projected a new perspective into it and disregarded their fear of the consequences of their defiance. For example, Mahatma Ghandi who went as far as sacrificing his life through a hunger strike in his call for peace and fight against British imperialism, Rosa Parks who stood against racism by defying authority and refusing to sit at the back of the bus, and a final modern example – President Bashar Al Assad, who, despite mainstream media’s portrayal of him as a vicious dictator and the continuous baseless shunning by the vast majority of the world and powerful governments, remains perfectly sturdy and committed to protecting the citizens of his country, disregarding the opinions of others on him and continuing to do what is right. To be honest with you, I was hesitant to include that last example because of the controversy it carries, but I then thought to myself: why can others freely give their opinions (which of course align with the opinions of the majority) whilst I feel I must remain quiet due to my less popular perspective? Although political stances are not exactly measures of authenticity, the degree of commitment in expressing a different/minority view and ‘taking the road less taken’ is.

So, my point here is that as hard as you may feel it is to resist social pressures, whether this may be regarding your genuine feelings about certain topics, music taste, your genuine interests, the way you dress and a seemingly more recent phenomenon- how expensive your makeup is, within us all there is a sanctuary wherein our genuine self lives; this is when we are alone with our own thoughts, away from our phones where we are blinded by the opinions and lifestyles of others, and away from the expectations of family. If you one day decide to let free the contents of your sanctuary into the outside world, piece by piece and day by day, then, and only then, will you truly be living.