Is there a hole in your bucket? Do you sometimes feel that no matter what you fill your life with, you’re never quite… happy… satisfied… content?
Psychologists generally agree that the most important factor in happiness (after food and shelter and all that malarkey) is having positive relationships. We seem to instinctively know this and therefore naturally strive to be a part of something: a social group, a romantic partnership.
But do you sometimes find yourself in situations where you feel you ought to pretend to be something in order to “fit in” with those around you, for them to like and accept you? Do you feel inclined to behave a certain way that doesn’t quite sit with you, wear a style of clothing you don’t particularly want to wear, or even live your life by rules that you don’t quite agree with, in order to be accepted into a certain social group or in order to attract or keep a romantic partner?
You most likely came across negative group pressure from a very early age. A child is picked on for being different and the other children feel they must join in the bullying in order to fit in. Maybe the bullied child was you or maybe you were a bully or maybe you just stood by and watched it happen knowing it was wrong but not wishing to be ostracised. When you were older perhaps you were persuaded to smoke, have sex or skive off school because the other kids were doing it.
As an adult perhaps you feel obligated to fit into a stereotype or role. Isn’t it time you bought a house of your own? Shouldn’t you be a manager at work by now? When are you going to get married and have children? Doesn’t someone who lives in a house like yours usually own a 4x4? UGG boots/camel coats/trilby hats are what everyone is wearing now, you need to go shopping… Probably nobody has said any of this to you outright but when you look around and this is what “everyone” in your peer group is doing, surely you’re expected to do the same. Right? ... Right? No! Of course it’s not right. (I know you knew this.)
If you find yourself comparing your life to that of others, and we all do it a bit sometimes, stop it! Stop worrying about what you think you should be doing. What someone else is doing isn’t necessarily right for you. Heck, it may not even be right for them! Of course it’s natural to want to fit in and be accepted because it makes us feel happy but only when we’re being accepted for who we really are. Those quality people who truly care about us are not worrying about what car we’re driving or whether it’s time we got a promotion but ONLY about our wellbeing. They want to spend time with us because they like us, not some pseudo personality we’ve adopted to fit in. If people want to be with you for artificial reasons that’s not real friendship and cannot be counted as a positive relationship; you can bet your boots if you found yourself in hospital they wouldn’t be waiting at the ward door at five-to-visiting time with a bottle of Lucozade.
In order to attract positive relationships we must be true to ourselves. Take some time to think about what things are important to YOU and take small steps to draw them into your life. If you think it’s not “the norm” so what? So you like trainspotting/taxidermy/going to raves in neon lycra – then get on with it! When you scratch the surface of some of the people you think you know, I guarantee you’ll find a bit of a weirdo underneath their “normal” veneer. Someone who doesn’t fit the mould; isn’t the same as everyone else, in spite of what they might have you believe. And that’s because we are all the same in that we are all individual.
I used to know a girl called Diane Bowers who had a saying, “You’re weird if you’re not a bit weird.” Isn’t that a great saying? Eight words that speak volumes. One of my interpretations is that she finds you strange if she is unable to properly connect with you because you’re covering up your true self; the things that may be a bit different, that make you YOU.
So if, like psychologists say, the most important factor in happiness is having positive relationships and if, like Diane says, it’s impossible to properly connect with someone who is hiding their true self, then doesn’t it follow that the only way you’ll ever be truly happy is to be your true self? I think it does, ya weirdo. ;o)