Ever thought of how colorless the world would be if everyone had the same opinion about everything? How will it feel to celebrate any event without people? How would you feel if there was no healthy competition between people or how it would be like if you are happy today and want to shout it out to the whole world but there is no one listening to you? It would suck. But, what would happen if all those people start to force opinions on you?

Society! Irrespective of your age, gender, caste, color and religion, one thing that binds us all is society. Sounds good, right? One factor binding us all! But is it?

Decisions are difficult to make. What makes them worse is when you are forced to consider how people in the outside world might perceive it. The funny thing being that these ‘people’ are neither our family nor any stranger out there, it constitutes our own relatives, family friends and the social circles we or our family are a part of. So much for validation of a group of people who are nowhere affected by the decisions we make. It is just that their “opinions” are considered of utmost importance for no reason whatsoever.

I, for one, am quite an overthinker and unfortunately quite pessimistic too, always looking at cons of things more than the pros and at this point when I am already conflicted, the least I need is opinions that manipulate me into thinking that if I think something out of the box or something that others ‘normally’ won’t do, it won’t do me any good.

For a very short while during my under graduation, I was sceptical about changing my major and it gave me more than a few sleepless nights and an infinite number of conversations with my friends, all of who supported me but it completely escaped me why I had not chosen to take English majors as a subject instead of what I was majoring in. the more I thought about, the more I realized that it was stemmed from all those conversations about me being a science major in all of the family gatherings I attended. ‘You are so good at science, you should do it’ drove me through 2 years of junior college and not only that, it went as far as someone telling it to my face that if I was planning to major in English, why did I choose to study science after class X. All that I did after that day was because I chose science and I had to do something in the same field. Now although I am happy where I am right now but it took me a lot of self-convincing and numerous days of stress to come to terms with it and to this day, I feel that I wasted a considerable amount of time being sad about it when I could have been where I wanted to be in the first place.

Where does that make me stand? It makes me stand at an intersection where I see a long line of people following a path and then there is the path I am looking at, the less travelled one, similar to the one that Robert Frost had in one of his best literary works of all time, “The road not taken”. But there is a difference, unlike him, I succumb to the opinions and the presence of people around me and I walk the path that everyone else chose to walk, all the while gazing at the one I wanted to take all along. Guess being stranded alone did well for Robert Frost.

Now, many of you may come up with the fact that no one forced me and all of those people were just expressing their opinion but there is a bigger picture here. Everyone is so engrossed in being an active part of the society that anyone who decides to do something out of the box, something that they won’t approve of is considered an outcast and we, most importantly our family, frowns upon that and that says a lot about the situation. Reputation is the term of importance here. Maintenance of a good reputation is considered important, sometimes even more than happiness. The constant chants of ‘what would people say’, ‘how will this spoil our reputation’ and ‘you are going to ruin our image in the society’ hold people back in most instances.

This brings a huge communication gap among people; such statements can be very well explained by the fact that most of the youngsters today would prefer to block their relatives and anyone who they feel is ‘judgy’ from all platforms of social media or create dummy accounts to pose a false media persona to those people. This might seem funny at a glance but it shows how people are reluctant to show their true selves, their true lives, their true emotions. Where do you think this comes from? This comes from a space of judgement, of criticism, of being considered an unideal, reputation spoiling individual that the society makes out of everyone who wants to live their lives on their own terms, make their own decisions, independent of any opinions from the people around.

What can we do? Well, be better.

Someone is a part of our society, similarly we are a part of someone else’s too! As an individual who understands the impact of societal influence on our minds, we need to be better at being supportive and empathetic towards others around us. Be an exception, be the person who people use with reference to the good part of society. Judge less, express more. Opinionate less, share more. Be the change you wish to see because if you and I turn out to be a part of the exact same section of society that torments us, that would make us intentional bullies and no one wants to be that, or at least I hope no one does because I don’t:) I refuse to be a part of the same clan even after facing all that I did and you should too. 

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