Updated: Mar 5, 2018
Have you ever been in a situation where you haven’t followed through with a decision because you were worried about being judged?
Imagine being your quirky self and just not giving a crap about someone else’s opinion?
What does that look like? Seriously stop and close your eyes and imagine waking up and deciding to follow through with that idea, or that dream of yours.
Would you have gone to university, would you have been a singer, artist, traveler, writer, dancer, teacher or doctor? It might be even deeper than that. You might be hiding who you really are just so you fit in.
It might seem as though it’s too late to chase that dream and maybe you have resigned to the fact that you won’t get paid to be a singer, but have you thought about what it really is that you want out of life? You have life experience and a wealth of knowledge behind you, what could you do with that?
Do you want to help people?
Do you want to create something of value?
Do you want a challenge?
The fear of judgment has been in grained in us for decades and was apart of life or death in the tribal times.
This is where psychology comes into it.
Belonging - We all have a need to belong and connect with other’s. If you have a different way of looking at the world and our friends, family members or even a stranger think we’re weird, wrong or just not normal, you will find yourself holding back from being your true self. You know, that uncomfortable feeling you get when you’re with a group of people that you don’t seem to have anything in common with?
Obedience and Conformity - We conform to the way society defines “normal”. We go along to get along. Do you feel like you just don’t fit in around some people? But you push on through that feeling? So, you think one way but act another way. It’s the most exhausting way to live. Have you ever been in a situation where before you speak, you think about what you want to say over in your head, because you don’t want to say anything stupid, or you just sit quietly so you just completely avoid the risk of sounding stupid and looking stupid?
Being this way saps your energy. I was like this in my last job. I hid my personality because I thought for some crazy reason I couldn't be myself.
Following the status quo- Finish school, go to university, even if you’re not sure what you want to study or what you want to be. Then find a partner, have kids, and bam! Your life is awesome!
Or is it?
I followed this path minus the kids and found myself stuck, with no clarity and feeling unsatisfied with life. The only way I got myself out of this was by understanding how my perception towards the way people judge me needed to change. Instead of concentrating on the naysayers, I surrounded myself with the positive people in my life, people that made me feel good. The people that supported me and my quirkiness. I hired a mentor to help me get clarity. I started belonging, because I was being my true self.
Imagine how boring the world would be, if we all just said, “ow well, that’s just the way it is, this is how life is meant to be, I will just do as I’m told, because everyone else is doing that”.
Now, think about the inspiring things that people have achieved and they went against the social norm.
The women rights movements. If it wasn’t for the women who went against social norms, we wouldn’t even have the right to vote and work today.
“No woman can run the Boston Marathon.” While running in the race Katherine was attacked for being a women. After she was attacked by an official (someone of authority) she thought about giving up.
"That was how scared I felt, as well as deeply humiliated, and for just a tiny moment, I wondered if I should step off the course. I did not want to mess up this prestigious race. But the thought was only a flicker. I knew if I quit, nobody would ever believe that women had the capability to run 26-plus miles. If I quit, everybody would say it was a publicity stunt. If I quit, it would set women’s sports back, way back, instead of forward. If I quit, I’d never run Boston. If I quit, Jock Semple and all those like him would win. My fear and humiliation turned to anger."
The point of this is we're all different and we have different values and beliefs. Standing out and following your dream or your idea feels scary because we are generally going against the norms. It is when we do this that we will make the biggest difference in our lives and more importantly other peoples lives.
Lilienfeld O, S., Steven, L. J., Laura, N. L., Nancy, W. J., Graham, J., Anthony, M., & Virginia, S. (2014). Psychology from Inquiry to understaning (2nd Ed.). Australia by Pearson Australia Group