I have a sister with red hair and when she was younger it was always the source of conversation. Often, she was teased unmercifully — 'Carrot Top', Ginger, Matchstick Head— children can be very cruel at times and — hands up — as her big brother I was often guilty of some of those immature comments as well.
Unbeknown to me at the time she craved any other colour of hair apart from red – so it was regularly dyed, straightened and cut and this was all done because she wanted to get peer approval.
She couldn’t simply be herself, instead she felt the need to mould herself into a person that, she wasn’t. She went through a phase of believing that if she bought the right products, wore what was in vogue, worked hard to stay thin, and more importantly changed her hair colour she would be accepted by her peers and become part of the gang. But she came to realise that striving for acceptance was like running on a treadmill – always running, but never crossing the finishing line.
Do you remember those days? Do you remember that sense of striving to fit in and wanting so badly to be accepted?
You don’t need to be a teenager to feel that way. I often come across many mature adults who still feel that they will be judged, castigated, shoved aside if they don’t conform to a stereotypical acceptance — to blend in to something which, quite frankly is alien and uncomfortable for them but the fear of rejection is so powerful that they end up conforming and lose themselves amongst the greyness of the crowd.
Of course, we can get around this feeling of unworthiness by judging others – ‘well I might not be perfect but I’m better than them!’ And so begins the vicious circle.
Let’s begin by accepting ourselves as the unique individuals which we all are, with all our faults and failing as well as our gifts and skills. The world would lose so much of its colour and excitement if we all blended in together.