With so much talk and advertisement, mainly aimed at children and teenagers, to “be themselves”, to not be afraid to “be different and stand out from the crowd”, it is a wonder how they are not afraid to enjoy activities which may render them “the same” as everyone else. Children are encouraged to pursue what they themselves enjoy, not what is deemed “cool”. But, paradoxically, this strive for diversity has itself almost become a trend- the very thing it was created to avoid. So much emphasis is put on finding and following your passion, whatever that may be. Dare to be different. Don’t be afraid of what other people may think. Do not, as sang harmoniously in the first High School Musical film, stick to the status quo. Countless films and books have thrived off this shit of dynamic of the youth, allowing them to take a fresh take on growing up. But what is wrong with being alike, and enjoying the things other people do?
Repetition is natural to humans. It is innate within us. Aristotle said, “mimetic activity is instinctive to humans from childhood”. Mimesis, the art of imitation, is something we are born with and expand upon when growing up. We take comfort in repetition. Why do we like Fairy Tales so much? The generic plot line and structure create a sense of safety and habit for us. We become used to the “happily ever after”, which follows the “once upon a time”. There is security in repetition. It is natural for us to follow example, and copy what others do. If we didn’t, the beauty and fashion industry would no doubt crumble. They, much like the film industry, leech off our tendency to copy. This is how trends are created, and how these industries survive.
But for some reason, uniformity has in recent times, been shunted to the back in order to welcome a new way of living. We need to express ourselves, to stand out. Following the norm is not enough anymore. We need to find that something special within us that sets us apart from the crowd, and flaunt it. There is nothing wrong with being unique!
But there is nothing with being like everyone else. If you are not granted with a natural talent for diversity or being different, it can be different to join the club. Scrolling through instagram, looking at the countless people who are living and embracing with their differences- their hair, what they study, where they live, what they wear, their political beliefs, the food they eat, can become overwhelming. The pressure that was once felt in attempt to conform, has evolved and become the pressure to be different. If you aren’t, you are normal. Bland. Just like everyone else. Mainstream.
Since when did being mainstream, conjure up such negative connotations? “Oh my god, you are so mainstream”, has become an insult. We are ordered to express ourselves. But what if, in order to express myself, I want to learn to cook just like Jamie Oliver? What if I want to listen to chart music? What if I want to start a blog, just like thousands all over the world, because I love to write?
It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that I am not especially unique. I don’t instantly stand out from the crowd. I enjoy doing things that many others do too. I was afraid to start a blog. Afraid that people would roll their eyes and think, “here’s another one”. Well they’re right. Here’s another one! There’s nothing wrong with joining in with a trend, if that is what you enjoy.
Just as diversity is sought after and encouraged, we should also let uniformity share the spotlight. Because there is nothing wrong with not being “different”, or “unique”. Because, if you are not like those people, then you must be different from them. Which is what they want, after all.