The Importance of Individuality
In a society where one is expected to conform to the masses, maintaining individuality can be a difficult task. It is also, however, a task vital to the identity of an individual. In the world, there are those people who merely follow the herd, and then there are those individuals who strive to lead and be their own people. The first group of people becomes lost in the shuffle of life; they attempt to blend in, and they are successful, making them all but invisible. The second group, however, commands the respect of society and ultimately has a better grasp of their identity. While individuality is respected, spending your life trying to be like other people will ultimately make you lose sight of who you really are.
A person who is an individual has several key characteristics. One is their mindset, which seems to say, "Accept me for what I am. If you can't do that, then you're the one who's missing out, not me." By maintaining this attitude, individuals never feel that they must try to impress anyone or act in a way that another person would in order to please them. A second characteristic of the individual is self-confidence. The individual is satisfied with who he or she is, and that is enough for them. The individual is not ashamed of his or her flaws and unique aspects, and is therefore often able to use these things in a positive way. Moreover, the confidence that individuals have in themselves commands the same kind of confidence and respect from those around them.
When your peers respect you, being a leader is easy, and as individuals command respect, they are natural leaders. In effect, individuality is akin to leadership, while conformity is akin to being a follower. The individual may lead a trend in fashion because she was not afraid to wear blue tights to class. The follower would have been afraid of the ridicule of her peers and would therefore wait until almost everyone else was wearing blue tights before donning them herself. The individual may also introduce a new opinion into a debate, for he is not afraid to express his opinion, even if others disagree with him. The follower would be afraid that his opinion would come off as being stupid, and would therefore keep his mouth shut. While the individual may lead revolutions in all aspects of life, the follower ignores his or her opinions and allows them to be trampled upon in the quest of fitting in.
Sometimes an actor may become so immersed in a role that he will "become" his character. Similarly, people who spend their lives trying to fit a mold end up losing their identity. They work hard to suppress their own thoughts and desires in order to fit in, and eventually they simply forget these thoughts and desires. When every thought in a person's head is countered by a little voice that says, "Will that make me look stupid?" or "Is that what everyone else thinks?" the person begins to unconsciously second-guess everything that they think. The result is that the thoughts that are eventually expressed (if at all) have gone through a series of revisions and are not the true thoughts of the person at all. If a person constantly revises his thoughts in this manner, his own true thoughts become superfluous to him, allowing his identity to slip through his fingers like sand through a sieve.
As your individuality is an important part of maintaining your identity, you must take steps to improve your attitude towards yourself. First, you must recognize, admit to, and even embrace your flaws. This will help you learn to love yourself for who you are rather than feel insecure about what you are not. Next, you must come to the conclusion that what you think about yourself is far more important than what everyone elsethinks. Finally, you must develop confidence in yourself and your ideas and find the courage to be able to express them. You should never be afraid to be yourself, for life is too short to be cool.