Have you ever been told to stop doing something simply because it was weird? Maybe you were not told explicitly, maybe it was just through body movement, or the judgmental glancing of total strangers. Regardless, I am sure we have all felt the weight of social expectations at one point or another and had to hold back some impulse. Why?

There is this odd belief in society that if we are in a social space, our actions are not dictated by us, but by the people around us. There are emotions society has decided are unacceptable, such as anger and sadness. This causes people to act like robots in social situations. You see them walking through the malls, the supermarkets, the superstores; blank faces and glazed eyes, staring towards the things society tells them they need, like a new smartphone or that one specific brand. Talking about the weather. Again, I ask, why?

Why do we pigeon-hole ourselves into this mold that is, let’s be honest, boring? I do it too. When I am in a room of complete strangers, I act very differently from how I act with friends. I tend to be much quieter and keep my views to myself, at least until I get a feel for the people around me. I have been actively trying to change this for a couple years now, and am making some headway, but it is very difficult to shake the pressures of social conformity.

Some of you are probably wondering what the point I am trying to make is. My point is this: we live in a day and age of change. Before our generation, the internet did not exist. Everyone’s world was drastically smaller than it is today. The introduction of this vast network of social interaction has allowed for people to come out of their shells in a way never before seen. With infinite new ways to express ourselves, we are able to let our internal beings show, but to what extent?

While we are emboldened online to be “abnormal” and “rebellious,” how much of this actually translates to our everyday lives? How often do we decide to go against social norms and let our internal selves come out?

I personally believe the only reason the answers to these questions are “not a lot” and “not often” is we are afraid to be judged. The most comforting piece of advice in tackling this internal dilemma is that the people that judge you negatively for being you are not worth your time. They are never going to be your closest friends anyway, because if you ever opened up to them they would think you were “weird.”

Therefore, you should let it all hang out from the beginning. If you want to sing and dance in public, do it. If you want to yell at the top of your lungs, do it. If you need to break down crying, do it. If you want to wear a bathrobe all day, do it. The world is your oyster and the only one that can limit you is yourself.

Thoreau Zehr

Copy Editor

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