In a society that aims to create people who think within the box and conform to what is considered the norm, being ourselves is not as easy as it may seem.
Just think for a moment, since we enroll at school we are taught to think and behave in a specific way and we are “standardized” and made homogeneous.
We can witness this pattern even in the workplace, where employees are told to follow precise procedures and schemes.
It seems that if you don’t follow in other people’s footsteps, if you have different goals and values, in a nutshell, if you don’t fit in what is considered the right standard you risk becoming an outcast.
That’s the rub, because most people to fit in, to conform to society’s standards and please others, never know who they truly are, what makes them feel fulfilled.
Furthermore, they don’t use their gifts and never find their IKIGAI, i.e. the reason for being alive.
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting”. - E.E. Cummings
This concept is clearly explained in the following scene from the movie ‘Dead Poets Society’.
Instead of trying to be like someone else, we should be ourselves, even if it means thinking outside the box.
Thinking for yourself may cause other people’s criticism, but must be done “even though the herd may go...that's bad”, as Robin Williams puts it in the scene illustrated above.
We should become aware of how the environment we have grown up in has influenced who we are, what we consider right or wrong, what we want, the way we think and behave.
We should question if what we are doing now is what we really want to do, or just what we have been told to do; if we - for instance - wear clothes that we really like or because they are fashionable if we follow a career we are passionate about or because we are expected to do it, etc.
Bottom line: we should explore who we truly are and spend time looking for what makes us happy.
What makes one person feel happy is not necessarily the same thing that makes another one feel fulfilled.
Everyone is different and has different qualities, so if we try to please everyone we end up pleasing no one.
Find out what I mean through the following inspirational story
THE PLUM THAT WANTED TO BE SOMETHING ELSE
Once upon a time, there was an outdoor market with all kinds of fruit.
One of the most attractive ladies of the village browsing the stalls picked up a banana and ate it.
The banana’s friend, the plum, witnessing this, begged God to turn it into a banana: “Lord, please, can you make me a banana”?
“Why do you want to become a banana?”, asked God.
“Because the beautiful woman has just chosen my yellow-skinned friend instead of me”, replied the plum.
“Fine, your wish is granted!” said God, and the plum turned into a banana.
The following day the same woman came along, and this time she picked a lemon.
The plum that had been changed into a banana grew impatient and begged God again: ”Lord, would you mind making me a lemon”?
“Fine, your wish is granted!” said God, and the banana turned into a lemon.
When the woman ate the lemon she had picked previously she spat it and said: “Disgusting, it’s so bitter”!
The plum, which was now a lemon, witnessed the scene and grumbled: “How stupid of me to ask to be transformed into such a sour fruit”?
And then it went on: “Maybe I should ask to be turned into the sweetest fruit in the world, the attractive woman will not resist me”.
The lemon prayed to God once more: “Lord, can you please turn me into a date”?
“Fine, your wish is granted!” said God, and the lemon turned into a date.
The next day the woman was back again at the stall, she didn’t even glance at the dates, she reached for a plum.
The date felt miserable and thought to itself: “I wish I had never asked to be changed and had stayed my true self, a delicious plum”.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
After reading this enlightening story a few questions arise spontaneously:
- “Why should we want to be like someone else, when we are as special as we are”?
- “Why should we like to be a photocopy of someone else, when we are original as we are”?
We are all different, unique, and blessed with special gifts; so there’s no point in trying to be someone else.
There’s no point in emulating what someone else does - just to conform to society’s standards, just to please others - especially if it means denying who we are and what is truly important for us.
“Don't try to be someone else. Be yourself”. - Joe Louis Walker
Let’s not fall into the misbelief that we can please everyone because it is not possible.
There are people who don’t like plums and people who do; likewise, not everyone will like you, but that’s totally ok, accept it.
When we try to be like someone else, we lose the most precious and beautiful part of our being, i.e. our identity.
“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms”. - Zen Shin
We are like flowers!
Do you know why flowers have different colors?
The main reason is that by having different colors they attract the right pollinators which, in turn, allow the plant to flourish and grow strong.
Let me stress what is stated above through the following enlightening poem.
THE PLUM POEM
You can learn that you cannot be loved by all people.
You can be the finest PLUM in the world,
RIPE – JUICY – SUCCULENT
and offer yourself to all.
However, you must remember there will always be people who do not like plums.
You can learn to understand that if you are the world’s finest plum,
and someone you like doesn't like plums.
You have a choice of becoming a banana.
However, you need to be warned that if you choose to become a banana,
you will be a second-rate banana.
However, you can always be the best plum.
You need to understand that if you choose to be a second-rate banana,
there will always be people who do not like bananas.
Furthermore, you can spend your life trying to become the best banana (which is impossible if you are a plum)...
or: you can seek again to be the
So, don’t try to become like someone else.
Be the best version of yourself, because you are worth more than you think.
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary”. - Steve Jobs