Greek philosopher Aristotle, very rightly pointed out that “Man is a social animal”. We live, develop and sustain ourselves among people. Society can be seen as a system of interconnected parts, each part needs to work in cooperation with the others in order to promote harmony and stability. Owing to this understanding, it is very natural to be governed by society’s norms and traditions. We feel that if we do not follow the crowd and listen to what others say, we are in a way hampering the smooth functioning of society itself. Lines like “what will people say” and “try being more like X’ haunt us. We feel obliged to submit our wishes, hope and desires at society’s feet because we are too fearful of the repercussions.
You may have dreams and goals that are in conflict with those who want you to live and act a certain way. Social pressure can be exercised through taunts, rejections, criticism, rebukes and even isolation. We are conditioned to believe that if so many people act in a particular way, then that way must be the right path. However we need to understand, that is we who make up society, and asserting oneself is important. Just because the majority believes in something, does not make it right. Founder of Unplugged Talks, Ankita faced and braved societal pressure a number of times in her life. When she decided to live by herself in Mumbai, away from her parents, she had to deal with questions and criticisms from the people around her. Her decisions were questioned again after she decided to marry someone outside her religion. Inter religious marriage is still frowned upon by majority of people, and she too had to face hardships. Ignoring salty and negative comments, she decided to live life on her own terms and reached this far with her vision and goals intact.
So many students fall prey to societal pressure when it comes to choosing career paths. The mindset of ‘science is for boys and humanities is for girls’, have shattered many aspirations and ruined many futures. Students end up taking up courses and jobs they do not enjoy, just to keep their parents, relatives and society happy. This only ends in regrets, dissatisfaction and hopelessness. It is very important to realise that the only person you must be striving to keep happy, is yourself. You cannot make everyone happy, so you should not stress over it. Choose a career path that you do not mind following for the rest of your productive years.
You must make it clear to yourself that those who matter do not mind and those who mind do not matter! People will try to dull your spark, say your dreams are not achievable, or your plans make no sense. You need to listen to everyone, thank them for their concern, and do what you were set out to do anyway! You need to build your sense of self up because only people with low self -confidence let others determine their worth. Seeking approval and validation from others means that you feel undervalued every time someone disapproves of you. Try surrounding yourself with people who either think like you or are open to new ideas. This is a good idea because you will feel supported and cared for in the midst of rejections. You will feel assured that you are not committing a sin by backing your dreams. If you are being pressurised by people who are closest to you, try to understand their point of view, and then carefully explain them yours. It will take time, but they will turn around eventually.
Dealing with societal pressure can be over bearing at times. You might feel uncomfortable and scared without societal support. The key lies in having complete confidence in yourself and your goal. Take courage and stand your ground so that you do not waste years in regret and “what ifs”. Do what feels right to you and not because someone else said it is right, but because you believe it is right.