Sometime back I remember having a conversation with my mother about life and just the nature of the world in general. This was one of many, sometimes hours-long conversations I have with her on these sorts of things. But in this conversation she told me something, which she has since repeated often. She stated in effect that you could never be the person you’re truly meant to be, because the world won’t let you.
This is something I’ve thought about often. Without question the freest time of your life is when you’re newly emerged—not simply because you lack responsibility, but because it is the period where you’re allowed to develop and simply be—without judgment. The moment that your cognitive abilities are deemed to be sufficiently developed you begin to enter the slow progression of what I call “the judgment zone” where your actions in accordance to society’s mores will be scrutinized.
Now I’m not going into the familiar refrain of how life sucks as an adult—blah, blah, blah—as I think that story is old enough. The point which I want to make is that in the face of mass conformity and condemnation the most courageous people out there aren’t necessarily those who go jumping into burning buildings (although those men and women are pretty damn amazing) but rather someone who has the courage to be themself—irrespective of whether that “self” is deemed popular; case in point Margaret Thatcher.
I’m not one of these people who likes to go on and on about my personal political views, but let me just say that I’m not a fan of “Thatcherism” or that type of dogmatic ideology. What I do respect and in some ways actually admire about Margaret Thatcher was that she was not afraid to act on her convictions, which in turn means that she was loved by some, but despised by many. During her tenure as Prime Minister of Great Britain, she had the second lowest approval rating of any premier; to this day she evokes such strong and often divisive passions—which you always run the risk of when you stop caring about public opinion.
Now my overall message isn’t to be like Thatcher—but rather to be courageous enough to face the hostility that may come your way when you stop living by the court of public opinion. My mother’s complaint on the impossibility of being you—in a world that dictates what that “you” should be is correct—if you allow it to be. I feel the greatest challenge, journey, and goal in this life is learning how to live and be comfortable in your own skin. It is having the courage of conviction to be you—no matter what.