Growing up as an Asian American in a predominantly Caucasian community, I already felt an instant difference in individuality based on physical looks. To enhance (or distinguish) my individuality even more, I grew up training and competing in the sport of figure skating, and later on adding competitive tennis to my regime.
Essentially, I was a completely “different” type of girl. Not only was I not Caucasian like everyone else, but I didn’t really participate in any “normal” sports like soccer and lacrosse. Although, I had a great run during my middle school years being on the varsity field hockey and track team. For anyone that is curious, I really loved both sports and if I wasn’t so involved with my two other sports, I would have continued both activities in high school and potentially college. (I ran the 200m and 4×4 relay in track, shoutout to my brother for training me into a wild athlete those years) Regardless, I stood out pretty easily to my peers, which essentially forced me to stand alone as a complete individual at times. I share this beginning part in this post because as I continue to reflect on my past and current life, I recognize that my strong individuality and passion for free thinking stems from being indirectly taught at a young age to stand on my own and think for myself. I learned at a very young age that it is OK to be someone that stands out (in a unique way) and not everything I do has to be so that I can fit in. I recognize now that this aspect of how I grew up has allowed me to be very open minded about my life decisions and less concerned about the typical norm, which I see is rare in others.
Majority of our society and culture are more concerned with the social norm and to have their opinions fit in with others, in order to not be left out. My question is, why do we fear being left out so often? In other words, why do we fear standing alone with our own opinion, even when it is right? I notice that true individuals who have strong self-awareness and more or less a sense of free thinking, tend to be the one’s I am most compatible with. These are also the one’s that more or less do not give a shit about what other people think of them. Because they are fully self-aware and to give a shit about the opinion of others is to validate those opinions to a point that they may as well know you better than you know yourself. And damn that’s rough isn’t it?
Individuality comes at a cost. At a cost of walking a path alone without seeking for someone to hold our hand along the way. To step out of our comfort zone, even if it means no one will come with us. Believe it or not, majority of people simply can’t do this because of the fear of being alone. Fear of being rejected. Fear of not having a comfort space to fall back on. But what happens along the way is often the strengthening of our mental toughness, self-awareness, and better understanding of the direction we want to head in as we progress as individuals. This is rare to find in individuals around us in this generation, hence why I admire this trait and seek this in others as I continue to build my community and relationships.
My biggest tip? Build self-awareness.