Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Operation Normal: Be Yourself

What I don't understand is why there are so few normal people out there. By normal, I don't mean typical. Don't confuse the two. I think the best way to describe it would be "grounded." It's not that someone has to be the most down-to-earth person out there, but just aware of things, of how to interact with other people, how to view the world in an open-minded, respectful, and sane manner. How to think for themselves, how to use what they know about the world, about the nature of people, and form their own conclusions. But forming your own conclusion doesn't mean being radical. You can be an individual and not be radical about it.

I think when people try too hard to be individualistic, it becomes as contrived and fake as those who merely follow the crowd without considering their own opinions. You're not yourself when you're trying too hard. You're just putting on a show.

On the opposite extreme, it's not "safer" to blindly follow the crowd. No one will hate you for having your own opinions, provided they are sane. It shows ignorance and a lack of will power to avoid thinking for yourself in favor of having someone else do all the thinking and deciding for you. If you don't like a fashion trend, don't follow it. If you don't like what everyone these days is reading, don't read it. If you don't feel you need to iron your hair and wear ballet flats in order to be frum, don't do it.

Obviously there are boundaries. That's why this, like everything, is a balance. You can't ignore Halacha if you feel you don't want to do it. If you're a Jew, you have to follow the Torah. That's a given.

There has to be somewhere in between the extreme of throwing away every social convention and blindly following what They dictate to you. This middle ground is called Thinking For Yourself While Still Remaining Rational And Aware Of The World. I like to call this "being normal." You might rather call it, "being yourself." And I mean really yourself. Not an overblown, overdramatic version of yourself to make a point. I mean just being chill about it. Not to make a point, just to be you. And to be open-minded to other people being themselves. Not everyone has to be a clone, nor does everyone have to be radically individualistic. As someone once said, "keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out." It's important to be aware enough that you don't just accept, accept, accept - in either extreme.

The more yourself you are without any airs or any show, the more "normal" you will be.

1 comment:

G said...

"keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out."

While dating I found out this was my wifes yearbook quote...when I knew I was on the right track.