This condition, can be looked at in one of two ways. The first option we have is to study the norms of our society, as a science experiment, and come to conclusions as to what path to follow. Align with a set of ideas, goals, or morals which we feel comfortable conforming with. This is the mentality of a follower.
The other, more difficult path, is that of a leader. A leader to me is not someone who knows the way and is willing to show others the path. My definition of a leader is someone is courageous enough to explore a new path, or create his own way, and instill that same confidence in those who put their trust in him, or her. Being a leader is synonymous with being different. It requires you to cut through the dense forest, machete in hand, drawing a map as you go instead of following the road signs.
The path of a leader is much more difficult, both because of the outside pressures to conform and the steep learning curve of navigating uncharted territories. However, with higher risk comes higher reward. Being different also comes with a huge and often overlooked advantage: little competition.
International business giants like Apple use a "market differentiation" strategy, or "niche marketing" in order to place their products in positions where they are so different, that competition is nearly non-existent. Admittedly, the market has caught up to Apple as of recently, but initially they were at the forefront of it all, their innovative products set the standard in the industry.
What I challenge everyone who is reading this to do is to ask questions. I write this blog today because every day I see more and more people blindly following the norms, and shaming anyone who dares to stray from the trend. I mean damn, social media and even some news programs promote an unhealthy obsession with topics "Now Trending". Whether it is in politics, business, fashion, or even pop culture. Ask yourself questions such as this:
- Why does the media cover what they cover? Who decides what is "news"?
- Is that new phone/car a good investment? Am I getting it for myself, or for others to look at me differently? Does it make sense to pay $500 for a bottle in the club because it includes sparklers when I can get the same bottle (minus the sparklers) at the liquor store for $50?
- Do I feel uncomfortable in my clothes because the fabric itches and the tag is poking me, or because no one has ever heard of the brand and the logo is too big?
- How is this TV show, movie, or song shaping me into a different person? Is it adding attributes to my personality which I am proud of? Is it expanding me as a person?
I do not write this to shame or talk down to anyone. Everyone is free and entitled to spend their time and money as they please, but to spend either without considering the alternatives is ignorant. We need to stop letting mass opinion shape who we are. We are losing the beauty that is INDIVIDUALISM.