Social acceptance is overrated. Success and happiness are misinterpreted. Before you get the wrong idea and jump to the conclusion that this is some self-help balderdash, let me assure you that it is most definitely not the case. These are just my musings on the concepts of success and free spirit.
Pleasantries aside, let us come to the point. Success in the eyes of the society is determined based on how a person performs on a variety of criteria like money, job, social status, relationships, marriage, family, etc. And it is assumed that all these factors will lead to happiness, peace and contentment. Really? If so, there should be something very wrong with the ancient wisdom that exhorts people to look inside themselves for happiness. However, since it is widely acknowledged that wisdom rarely goes out-of-date, we can only conclude that it is, most probably, the society that has gotten it all wrong. Judging by the widespread discontentment and frustration, this seems to be true. There are people everywhere around us (including many of us) who desperately pursue different things in life in the hope of being happy.
If, in reading so far, you somehow formed an idea that career, money, relationships, etc. are immaterial in life and should be given up completely, you are wrong. These are exactly the things that will provide you all the happiness in the world, if you do not compare it with what your neighbour/friend/colleague/opponent has, and if you do not evaluate it on the scale of social acceptance. Indeed, social acceptance is an important and necessary constraint, especially when you live in a civilisation. Several undesirable human traits are kept in check by the rules of society. Imagine a world where anyone can do anything, can hurt anyone they hate, can destroy anything they dislike, can steal anything that catches their fancy. Chaos! So yes, social norms are to be followed, to an extent. The trouble starts when a person becomes too much caught up in the trap of appearance that he forgets who he really is. After all, what is a man who does not know the song of his own heart?
Okay, that was a little too “profound” and maybe even corny, but the point is, whatever one pursues should be by one’s own choice for it to be the source of real fulfilment. Everywhere in the world, some aspect of human life is controlled by perceived notions of success.
Somewhere, someone trades their career dreams for a high-profile job, while somewhere else, another person sacrifices their happiness for a stagnant relationship/marriage. Some people pay for financial security with their health. Almost everyone is ready to give up anything- money, health, balance- for a desirable body. We are never fully free of self-enforced limitations.
True freedom is in having a free spirit. Free spirit does not just mean doing whatever you wish, or following the deepest desires of your heart. It also includes such little but very important things that we usually fail to consider, like being yourself, being unafraid to stand out, standing by your own convictions, being spontaneous, etc. When a person accomplishes these smaller goals, they are laying a strong foundation for lasting and meaningful success. Why, this in itself is a great success! So what are you waiting for? Come out of the moulds and take charge of your own life. You can never please every single person on earth, so why bother? Please yourself. At the end of the day, when you look back and reflect upon your life, nothing will be remembered: no accomplishments, no amount of praise from anyone. No, you will only remember what it was that you experienced and learnt. Whatever misjudgements you made, whatever mistakes you committed, you will know that you are responsible. And that is empowerment, instead of feeling like a victim of circumstances. It shows weakness of character to blame other people, fate, God, society, etc. for one’s own actions.
Since, at this point, this article is starting to sound like some personality development seminar, now will be a good time to stop. So I will leave you to your own musings now. Live free!