Let the real you flourish
You’ve probably heard the saying about someone being ‘a sheep’ and you probably know it’s not referring to them being a cute ball of wool bleating around fields. Being a sheep is a term that describes someone who mindlessly follows others in what they say or do. So, are you one? Most people would like to think they’re not influenced by others, but at times it’s difficult not to be. Think about your peers at school. How many wear similar clothes, have the same brand of phone, style their hair the same way or start using words they’ve copied from others? Of course, it could be because they simply like this style, but often they’re subconsciously following what is deemed to be ‘in’ or ‘on-trend’ rather than actively thinking about what they really want or like.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from others if you like their style or you’re both drawn to the same things. But if you’re following their lead to be accepted or respected, now’s the time to make a change and be proud of the real you. It could be that secretly you’d love to go for a different look to those around you but think your friends would laugh, or disapprove, so you hide that part of you. Copying doesn’t just apply to clothes or particular items, though. For some it means imitating the behaviour of friends in order to fit in, even if that involves being mean to other students when you know in your heart it’s wrong. If you feel like this, you’re not alone. Here are a few tips to help you feel brave enough to be yourself and embrace the things that make you special.
WHO ARE YOU?
It’s easy to be led by others both in and out of school and to end up trying to be someone you think others want you to be. But what do you honestly like? Are you really a label addict when it comes to clothes or gadgets? What music do you want to listen to? Forget what your friends have playing on their headphones – think about what makes you happy.
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDLY
Apart from your image, what about your behaviour? It’s easy to copy the language and character traits of others until they become a habit. Do you treat people a certain way because that’s what other students do? Are you judging someone based on others’ opinions rather than forming your own? If you realise you’re being unpleasant because that’s how your friends sometimes behave, take a pause and consider if it’s really right – or really you. Similar thoughts apply if you find yourself in a situation that feels uncomfortable. At some point, there’ll be events where your peers will be doing things you don’t like or don’t want to do. Never feel you have to join in because you fear being laughed at or exiled from the crowd. If they’re the kind of people who pressure you into certain situations, it may be time to consider if they’re true friends.
It’s easy to say ‘be brave and strong and be true to yourself’ but it can be hard and scary being different to your friends at first, saying ‘no’ or standing up to others. You fear you may be mocked or left out of the group. Rejection is one of society’s worst fears so it’s natural to be worried. Try to remember that some of the most successful people in the world, such as Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, were bullied or mocked for being different or ‘weird’ in their teens but were brave enough to be themselves. When you’re ready to be true to yourself, you may encounter eyebrow-raising and negative responses from peers. These responses might help:
- ‘I like this style more.’
- ‘I wanted to join this club. You can join as well if you want.’
- ‘I like them and that’s all that should matter.’
- ‘I don’t feel comfortable so I’ll pass, thanks.’
- ‘I’m happier being myself.’
- ‘I don’t want to always follow others. I have my own thoughts.’
YOU’LL BE HAPPIER
Many people worry that if they don’t follow the crowd or stay in line and be just like others, they won’t be accepted. If everyone was just brave enough to be themselves, however, the world would probably be filled with happier people.
Our planet needs more people to lead the way by showing their true colours and being bold and distinct – you could be one of them. Your real friends will support you (you may even inspire other students to do their own thing). Most importantly, you’ll feel joyful and less stressed being true to yourself. And in the future you’ll be grateful you allowed yourself to be happy rather than following the crowd and being a ‘sheep’.