So many dreams in this world have died just because of one sentence, “What will people say?”. We spend a lot of time thinking about what the other person thinks or perceives about us, it’s like we are a participant of a reality show in which we have to follow the rules made by others, do things that will make them happy and depend on their approval to see if we succeeded or failed in our life.
Let’s see the life cycle of an ideal person born in a “civilized society”: You are born, congratulations! now society and your parents have everything planned for you. You should study in schools and colleges where your memory will be tested and not your creativity, after finishing the college you should find a stable job so that your future is secured, build a house, find a suitable mate, get married, reproduce, teach your kids to do the same and die. Nothing less is expected from you and nothing more is wanted from you.
Beware! If you did not complete the steps, then you will be considered a failure. If you skip any of the steps or try to not follow the plan, then you will be termed as a Rebel and the world will judge you at every step of your life. You will be used as an example to suppress others who may dare to question or go out of the establishment. If you fail, then they will say you failed as you didn’t follow the rules of the society and others should not be like you. If you succeed, then off course they will celebrate you; but they will also build a narrative around you stating that you were lucky or extremely talented and others should not follow your footsteps as they are not as talented as you and they won’t have the same luck as you. It’s fascinating how society somehow finds a lesson suitable for status quo in both the success and failure of the person who dared to challenge it.
During my school days I learned about the Great English Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (P B Shelley), He was expelled from Oxford on 25 March 1811 because of ideas which were considered radical at that time. The same Oxford university have a Memorial dedicated to him as he is one of the most famous alumni of the Oxford university. Do you think that Oxford and the civilized world learned its lesson after this? Do you think they understood that a different idea does not mean that it is wrong? Do you think the society understood that a path that is different from the suggested one can still lead to success? You and I both know the Answer is No. Nothing, not even the Great P B Shelley can change the perception of the society and the way things are done.
We cannot change the world, but we can change ourselves. We can become headstrong; we can ignore the naysayers and we can make ourselves immune to the baseless logics used by the civilized pundits to discourage us and pull us back to the life cycle of an ideal person defined by them.
Let me dare to ask a question: Why should we care about what will people say? We are born in this world, we didn’t have to clear an exam to enter this world, then what’s the point rating ourselves on the scales set by others? The world will not end if we don’t get married or have kids or get a stable job, the world will still go on its regular pace. Then why care for this painful and demoralizing sentence?
It is important that we understand that everything we do or aspire to become is only for us and not for the society. I should be the one who defines what is good for me, what makes me happy, what is success for me and what satisfies me; it should not be defined by the people from the so called “Society” who don’t know anything about me, who don’t know about my problems, my struggles, what I have been through in my life.
Who gave them the right to decide what I should or should not do? Why should I allow their approval to become a roadblock in the path of my aspirations; my goals and my happiness? It’s me and only me who should decide what subject I want to study, what career path I want to take, whether to get married or not, whether to have kids or not.
Yes, it will be difficult, and I would need help of my family and friends to make these decisions, but no one should be allowed to force me to do anything.
Yes, I might get lost, but that will be an experience for me which will help me make better decisions in future.
Yes, I might fail, but at least I will be happy and satisfied because I will know it was my decision and my will.
Yes, I might be alone, but at least I won’t be in the company of those who lack the vision and guts to think beyond what was given to them.
It’s natural to fear the unknown, it’s scary to go to the path which is less traveled but how exciting it is to find new things on the way. How amazing is the feeling of freedom, freedom to choose, freedom to be whatever you want, freedom to be whatever you want to be? We have got one life and we should be living it on our terms enjoying every moment of this wonderful gift given to us by the nature. The sentence “What will people say?” should be of no significance in our lives as there will always be someone who has something bad to say about us, we cannot be a hero in everyone’s story, what matters is that whether or not we are hero in our story. At last I would say the sentence we all should be following is ‘Don’t just survive, live your life’.