Human beings are social animals, that is one thing that has been clear since the very beginning. We seemed to have a sense of organisation and standards even when we lived in caves, when we hunted as a group, with sets of rules and regulations based on mutual understanding. We’ve evolved and lived within the boundaries set by the society we created, with very few persons willing or daring enough to step out of line.
Of course, every once in a while, we did come across a rogue, and here too there existed two categories: a criminal or a person who inspired and mobilised others to lead change, and brought with them a revolution. And this modern society, the one in which we live in today, is the result of these revolutions. And is perhaps our greatest achievement.
But is this society really all that great? Is it really what these revolutionaries wanted?
A place where we are bound by the societal norms and social constructs, where we are not able to embrace our individuality. Where we live in the fear of ‘judgement’ of our own neighbours, where we value the opinion of those people more than we value our own, where validation from others is all that we seem to care for?
When I talk about individuality, I talk about a person’s identity: what they recognise themselves as. And for most of us, this identity is still bound by social constructs. Suppose, for example, I, a girl of 15, realise that I am attracted not to other boys as I ‘should’ be, but to other girls, would I embrace that side of me? Or would I hide within my own shell, hide it from my parents, my family, my friends, and all those I hold dear? The answer would probably be the latter.
Why? Because I know society says it is wrong. And I live in a society. And I don’t want to be shunned by the people around me. I fear I might be disowned by my parents because they don’t want a child who will bring them unwanted attention in the eyes of others. I fear that I shall lose all my friends, for my friends may not understand. Girls shall stay away from me, and boys will never support me. For people fear what they don’t understand, and they shall never understand my needs.
This is the reason, that despite legal liberation, we are still forced to deal with issues like racism and gender inequality, issues that have still not been resolved despite a century having passed since their revolutions started.
Society has this whole opinion of a perfect person, and it’s actually something very few people fit into. A person who is a little more chubby than this ideal person, suddenly becomes fat. When I say fat, people always assume it means ugly. I use fat as a description, just as I use slim, and personally feel there’s nothing wrong in being fat. If it’s you, it’s you. It’s just another descriptive word, like the colour of a person’s hair, their eyes, the colour of their t-shirt on a particular day. But society has allotted its own meaning to specific words, which gives them a whole other meaning.
I am a 15-year-old straight brown girl, and that is what I identify myself as. I am my cheerful nerdy personality. I am proud of my identity but in no way think it is superior to those of others. We create a spectrum of colours, a fascinating rainbow as a group of diverse people. And if everybody learned to embrace their own individual self, without the fear of judgement, I honestly think that the world be a much happier and easier place to live in.
~ Sancia Sehdev, Springdales School, Dhaula Kuan
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