Monday, March 14, 2011

Acceptance of Individuality

     ...I often wonder why some people try to be someone that they aren't to impress others. I have contemplated this concept for quite some time. I have come to a number of different conclusions. The first of these is for acceptance. Acceptance is the most important thing in a lot of people's lives. It is what makes them lie to others about any little thing, no matter of it's importance. The need for acceptance makes people do things that they don't want to do just because someone they need acceptance from does it or wants them to do it. The need for acceptance makes some people hide things about themselves from others to keep from seeming different. I think everyone is guilty of this to some extent, and most of the time it is harmless in small doses. No one likes to project a negative opinion of themselves. However in certain instances it can cause extreme emotional damage in a person who tries to alter everything about themselves in order to be accepted by causing confusion in their own identity. Sometimes it can alter the person's sense of reality. The problem comes when the people that they altered themselves for don't care enough to stick around for very long once they discover who the person really is, and then the person is left with an altered sense of reality and an identity crises. They frantically move on to the next person or group of people and immediately begin to repeat the same cycle, continuing to look for acceptance. Finally this person reaches a point when they want to try to live for themselves and be who they are, but they don't KNOW who they are. So they go on with their lives having no real meaning to them in search of themselves, and well, to avoid this getting too grim... let's just say it never stops.
     So what causes a persons need for acceptance? There could be a number of reasons, and in my opinion a lot of them stem from childhood. One of these reasons is the person's parents. It could range anywhere from a mother or father who pushed to hard for success and accepted nothing less than perfection, to a mother or father who was indignant, inattentive, or unimpressed by successes no matter how big. A parent is the first try a child makes for acceptance. Another reason is the person's social experiences as a child. School is often times akward and difficult for some children, especially those of higher than norm IQ levels, lower than norm IQ levels, or those children growing up in low income homes (in which the numbers continue to grow each year.) These children tend to be outcast by other social groups in their school. Some of them are extremely vulnerable to peer pressure, unable to face confrontation, and suffer from some form of depression. The habits of "trying to fit in" that these children develop become natural to them, a sort of defense mechanism, and become embedded as they grow into adulthood, making them vulnerable to bad relationships, co-dependency, and drug or alcohol abuse in some cases.
     How can we fix this vicious circle of events? I am not going to pretend to have the answers to that question. I know how I plan to try with my child. By promoting individuality, and giving her acceptance no matter how or who she is. Maybe that is a start. By teaching her to be proud of who she is. Showing her that while it is okay to be a part of a group, you don't have to become the group. By teaching her that if she doesn't want to or doesn't like doing something, she has a right not too. I don't know if it will help or if it will even make a difference at all, but my hope is that it will help make her a stronger person inside, more independent, more willful and confident. I plan to give her all the encouragement that I can. Maybe that is not such a bad idea for any of us, no matter what age. Encouraging individuality not acceptance...

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