By Karlie Hershberger
“And I’m on my knees looking for the answer, are we human or are we dancer?”
This lyric from the song “Human” by The Killers was written after a famous quote from Hunter S. Thompson that stated, “We’re raising a generation of dancers.”
The quote emphases that our society falls into the category of “dancers” repeating the steps of what is mimicked in front of us, following the moves that are shown to be correct. The idea of fitting in and feeling like you belong is a part of human instinct, but are we dancing along to the steps programmed by the society? Or making up our own dance moves?
Have we let ‘social norms’ put out by society dictate our everyday activities in our lives? Have you ever heard someone say “you have to go to college to have a successful career in the future” or “you will never get a real job if you have all those tattoos.” I know I have! Does living according to the expectations of others or living based off what society labels as “acceptable” or “attractive” ever allow you to be true to your own character?
Ask yourself whose expectations are you fulfilling. I can admit I am a victim of copying the hottest trends on social media every week. Starting to become a clone by looking like every other girl made me realize how I, myself, was a dancer; lost in the rhythm of high standards and expectations put forth by society.
Social media, advertisements, magazines, and TV shows are always showing off girls who look perfectly flawless, or the guy who looks like a Hollister model. No blemishes, no stretch marks, no battle scars. Society pushes this distorted image of beauty with expectations that no one can reach.
Far from meeting any of these mesmerizing qualities, I felt insecure throughout high school. I was short and looked like a middle schooler in 11th grade. Skinny and flat chested back to front, I found myself stuffing my bra whenever I got the chance. I never felt confident in myself because I didn’t have the body type that society pushed me to think I needed to be attractive.
Today I realize that comparing how I look like to unrealistic expectations of what is considered “beautiful” only put a damper on my self-esteem and made me feel insecure about my own unique differences.
I used social media to reach out and get the opinions other people had on society’s expectations.
I posted on my profile and asked these questions: “What’s your personal opinion on society’s expectations? Do you feel like you need to look a certain way to be accepted in today’s culture? And, if you do choose to live not according to what society views as “normal,” do you feel any better, or do you feel like a black sheep?”
After posting these questions on Facebook, I found the feedback from the responses made it clear that I was not alone in this struggle. Other people recognize the harsh standards in today’s society. But, the terrific thing is they choose to find pride in their differences.
Kevin Humphrey, 25, of Wyoming, explains how he doesn’t follow society’s high expectations because why pay attention to what other people have to say!
“I have never looked like what society has expected,” Humphrey wrote. “I’ve always been ‘fat’ always the last person to care about fashion, hair styles, etc. I honestly don’t pay attention most days to what anyone else has to say or think about it. Occasionally, it sucks feeling outcasted for my appearance (especially in my school days, last to be picked for stuff, etc).”
After reading Kevin say he was outcasted for his appearance, I started to think our generation is accustomed to an old bad habit of judging one another based off image. If an individual stands out why do we jump to conclusions about them? Why should they get treated differently than the rest?
Kasey Hall, 25 of Cutlerville, does not conform to social norms. She is one of the few who stand out from the crowd by following her honest desires and not living according to what anyone else thinks or says. Dressing and appearing however she is comfortable because she is not afraid to be different from the rest.
“I’ve never really followed trends or anything along those lines,” Hall wrote. “I dress in what I like and what I feel comfortable and confident in. I’ve always been one to wear dark clothes and bright hair. Some disagree and think that’s wrong but I like it and that’s what matters.”
Edwin Martinez, 19, of Aquinas college says “I feel like society’s expectations really are something that influences a lot of people’s lives, especially when they’re younger. Really what we all want is to be accepted by the people around us and what better way to be accepted that to do what is expected from them. I feel like every single person in one way or another does something they don’t like so they aren’t frowned upon. For myself, I would say I’m in a happy medium, I am influenced by society’s standard but at the same time I do a lot of things that I wanna do for myself that don’t fall under societies star standards.
I also Interviewed two GRCC students who voiced their opinion on the subject.
“Society’s expectations want to keep us in a box” Noah Hudson, 19-year-old GRCC student says. “They try to control the populous to follow certain guidelines to keep reputation.”
“Most of the society we live in and who we talk to expect us to act a certain way. If you want to be accepted into a certain group of people you generally have to have some kind of common interest or personality. Also society expects you to act a certain way in public however the sub societies we live in very differently. For example in Atlanta the high school i went to it was normal to hug some friends that were male in most other areas i’ve been in this is seen as awkward or different.” Joshua K. Kim of GRCC explains.
These responses show a great example of how a few different people view expectations and social norms in today’s society.
My point is, how it would change your life if you were to start choosing what YOU truly desire, not what you think is acceptable by our culture?
If you’re like me, dealing with insecurities from not measuring up to the crazy high standards, keep in mind differences are what make you, you. Embrace that your are unique in your own way and don’t have to look a certain way or act a certain way to feel like you belong.
By clicking the link below you can celebrate being comfortable in your own skin by posting the most funniest/unexplainable photo you have in your camera roll showing off a unique ability or even just a normal picture of yourself with the hashtag #ITakePrideInBeingMe if you’re not one suppressed with anyone else’s expectations just to fit in.