We Are Who We Make Ourselves - Who Do You Want To Be?
A lot of things can potentially happen during one’s teen-to-young-adult years. First, as you gain more experience of your own, you start to realize that many of the adults you know have been bluffing their butts off about the extent of their knowledge and authority. Secondly, you’re probably starting to get a little weary of the plain ol’ ordinary life you’ve been living and want to seek out something strange and wondrous. If your life has been particularly difficult or dull, you may be utterly desperate for an escape. You probably feel drawn to things that your parents don’t share any interest in, and may even think is ridiculous. And you’re probably getting sick of living in that limbo where adults expect you to act like a responsible adult, but still treat you like a child otherwise.
Add to this the fact that most of our definitions of “normal” are defined by a privileged few, and many of us are made to feel alienated for things that aren’t at all unusual: having perhaps two or three friends as opposed to what seems like half a school, being too interested in the “wrong” things (eg, sports enthusiasts are seen as normal, but tabletop roleplayers are seen as freaks), having the “wrong” dreams or aspirations, not having precisely the right set of looks or the perfect body, or just seeing the world from a different perspective.
It’s so very easy to get caught up into fictional worlds as a means of escape, to fantasize about living in a world where we’ll be unconditionally accepted, reinterpreting and reimagining ourselves as citizens of a world where the problems we face don't exist, or where they're easily overcome, or where we’re already “perfect” or can become perfect. But this is only a salve: it soothes the pain and can provide a welcome and necessary relief, but it doesn’t do much to help us better handle ourselves in the real world.
It’s also only natural to try and present ourselves in a way that says “No! I will not not be pushed around by you, and it’s not up to you to decide what kind of person I ought to be!”
Perhaps that’s why so many teens and young adults identify with villains and fantasize over being affiliated with them - because for all the harm they cause, they are beholden to no-one and hold themselves up to nobody’s standards but their own. And where heroes usually have to refrain from utterly demolishing everyone who bothers them, villains need not restrain themselves thus - they’re free to stab, shoot, vaporize, crush, and blast away anyone who bugs them. To be unhindered and unfettered thus is a tantalizing thought at many times, and is not at all an uncommon (or necessarily unhealthy) fantasy.
However, in the real world such characters translate into bullies, tyrants, and dictators. And in any case, many people who have been bullied or mistreated go on to act like bullies themselves. I don’t think “bully” is how most people want to be perceived, let alone what they want to be.
Stop and ask yourself: what kind of person do you want to be? How do you want others to perceive you?
If adults screamed and shouted at you, did that make you actually respect them? If not, why should you expect that screaming and shouting will make anyone respect you? What did make you genuinely respect people and their opinions? It doesn’t have to be limited to real people, either - fictional characters can do just as well.
How did you feel about people who acted like you were beneath them and belittled you? What about people who treated you as inferior because of your interests? What about people who responded to every mistake you made with a snide comment? Did you want to be friends with these people, let alone respect them? If not, why should people want to be friends with you or respect if you act this way?
What kinds of people did you want to associate with, not because you wanted to be them or because you wanted to live their glamorous and exciting lives, but because these people made you feel laugh, feel good about yourself, or want to keep on going and keep trying? What kind of people gave you hope for the future?
What kind of people made you see things from their point of view or even helped you change your mind about something big and left you glad for the experience? How did they go about it?
There will always be those who try to dictate to us who and what we are allowed to be or do, or to shame and browbeat us for what and who we are and what we like. It will be a constant struggle to put up with these people, and it can be very hard not to become embittered. But it’s much easier to deal with these sorts of people when you have friends than when you don’t… and nothing helps you gain friends and win people over like being the sort of person people would want to be around.
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