One of Life’s persistent challenges dogs every one of us from early childhood until the day we die—becoming unique within a society that values conformity. Peer pressure to blend in with the crowd strongly influences our daily choices regarding work, friends, how to dress, what TV shows to watch, which church to attend, how to spend time, and even how to think.
I remember my children’s middle school days, when ‘someone’ decided that a certain kind of gym socks were popular—the knee-high kind. But scrunched down to mid-calf. And they had to have THREE color stripes, not just two. Of course, those kinds of socks were difficult to find in the stores. But we searched until we found the RIGHT socks, because to settle for socks with two stripes might evoke scorn for my child for being ‘different’—which potentially meant disapproval and rejection from the “in” crowd.
Peer pressure among adults seems equally as ridiculous, though it is not a frequent subject of discussion. Most men and women feel inadequate in their appearance, thanks to media portrayals of photo-shopped Hollywood stars that set an impossible ‘beauty’ or ‘studly’ standard.
We buy things we can’t afford, we decorate our homes with the colors and décor that are popular, instead of what we really prefer. Because of our yearning to ‘fit in’, we choose the same cars as our neighbors, which in our region, are certain brands in neutral silver, black, white, or tan, with an occasional blue or red. Without even thinking, we shake our heads with displeasure at the occasional person who drives a yellow car, gets a wild haircut, or paints their front door purple.
A friend of mine called to tell of a couple of dreams he had about old friends. He shared the powerful messages from the dreams with these friends, who were blown away with his supernatural insight. As he excitedly told me this story, he exclaimed, “Isn’t this weird?” Since I am a dream interpreter and I do this kind of thing all of the time, I responded, “It is not weird—it’s NORMAL.”
It’s weird how ‘normal’ gets defined. Why is it that when we call other people ‘weird’, we assume that WE are the ‘normal’ standard?
We tell our children how unique and special they are. We want them to develop their abilities and desires to follow their destiny. But the expectations placed on everyone to conform to the status quo may be weighty enough to squash all creativity.
Many of us give up allowing our originality to shine. Because we don’t want to risk feeling rejection or being called ‘weird’. We may never step out to do what we are called to do because fear keeps us in our conventional, conservative box with little room for mistakes or criticism. We don’t want to stand out, yet we long to stand out.
I encourage us all to dare to dream big! May we risk being called ‘odd’ as we follow those dreams into our destiny. May we all be willing to break through limitations and expectations to become people who do something extra-ordinary. May we become supporters of diversity, world changers, and trend-setters, seeing the potential in people and blessing them in their ‘weirdness’ to release color and swirly imagination into our world.
Are You Normal or . . . (gasp) . . . One of Those Weirdos?