At the center of your being,
you have the answer;
you know who you are,
and you know what you want
I have always pondered the concept of what it means to be accepted by others. Either consciously or otherwise, we constantly judge others. That judgment is succeeded by selective treatment to one another. And thus, our own concept of what is right or wrong and acceptable or unacceptable is born. Our own concept is so ingrained in our lives and cultures that we forget it exists. We forget that sometimes it is simply an opinion and not a moral standard. We forget to consider what makes us think and perceive events, people or places the way we do. We forget equity in our strive for equality. We simply forget. My thought is that we reside in a biased world that is governed by persons’ ideologies of what it means to “do the right thing” or what it means to be “accepted.” One would assume that in today’s world, it is much different compared to the past. That we are moving past prejudices and negative perceptions. While that may seem true to a certain extent, I see it as simply transferring to a different phase. It’s not entirely eliminated but exists in a different shape or form, possibly unknown.
Being an accounting major, I am inclined to draw upon what might be considered a very geeky example of the topic at hand. So, a professional was relating a story to me regarding his accounting professor who was a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The professor found two students cheating on an exam and as an experiment asked two simple questions from the class the next day. The first was, if a CPA was found guilty of fraud involving a client’s business, would you choose among 4 answers that ascended in severity ranging from giving a warning to sent to prison. The students chose either c or d. The second was, if you found one of your classmates cheating on an exam, would you choose among the 4 answers with the same format ranging from giving a warning to dismissed from the university. The students chose either a or b. While the two scenarios are different in an obvious sense, they are alike in many ways. Therefore, what makes the CPA more wrong or less right than the student? While the outcome is an interesting phenomenon of how we make a judgment based on the facts given, limited as they are, it is not unexpected. We can expect people to make exceptions for others or themselves. People’s perceptions and reasoning changes based on the factors affecting it. It’s like the flowing waters of a river, changing its course along the way.
Like many kids growing up, I let myself be governed by others’ perceptions of who I was. I felt it was necessary to be accepted by those whose acquaintances I paid an unduly high emphasis on. Thinking back, I cannot fathom why I would succumb to another’s opinion of me, but I could understand the rationale behind my actions. I wanted to be a part of what I thought was the “in” group. It’s an age old system of using popularity as a determinant of what’s accepted and not. Therefore, it wasn’t until I was forced out of my comfort zone and realized that what seemed unacceptable was perfectly alright, that my thought process changed. I thrived and continued to do so by being who I wanted to be instead of being who I thought I should be. In some people’s eyes’ I may still be a nobody, but in those that mattered, I was and will always be somebody. However, not many kids may come to the realization that they are in fact somebody, if they simply took away the factors that held them from being so. As the famous words by Eleanor Roosevelt goes, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
The song ‘Cool Kids’ by Echosmith released in May 2013, brings up a similar point. It portrays a guy and a girl who simply want to be noticed. The lyrics go, “I wish that I could be like the cool kids, ‘Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in.” While the lyrics did a poor job in the creativity department, people still connected with the theme and the song became relatable. It’s popularity surged and landed a spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 2014. Self worth is a sensitive topic for some. Their whole life revolves around questioning if they’ve done the right thing or what others will think of them. So, for the next person that doubts their self worth because of the judgments of the universal “other”, remember, time is better spent being who you are than chastising yourself for it.
This piece was penned by a guest writer, exclusively for the Literartist. Let us know your thoughts below