Breaking the Mould of Peer Pressure

A question that sometimes drive me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?

Since as long as I can remember, I’ve been aware of the realisation that most of the time my likes and dislikes are quite different and distinct from the people around me. It would appear as if the whole world is obsessing over a certain fad at the moment while I’m unable to see any charm in that particular thing. More often than not, I absolutely abhor or despise it.

Time and time again, I’ve tried to ascertain the reason behind this discrepancy, because, like everyone else, I wanted to fit in or felt pressured to do so by peers. I failed to understand if I did not want to follow the beaten path merely because so many others were doing the same or was there some other factor involved? Would I have given the object/substance/matter in question a fair chance in vacuum without knowledge of the fact that people were going bonkers over it? It was baffling and somewhat disconcerting.

As of yet, I have no answer. Over the years it had become more and more difficult to define my own choices, to choose my own desires. It was easy to get swayed by popular opinion because of the tendency to be one of the flock. Any deviation from the ordinary is usually looked upon with scepticism and I really did not want to draw attention to myself. Was I being true to myself, however, was an entirely different question. All the lines had gotten blurry.

What I do know, today, is that it’s alright to be different. It’s alright to think differently, to choose differently and to decide differently. Peers are just that. Peers. They are not you. You’re your own person. It does not matter why your wavelengths don’t match those surrounding you. What matters is being unperturbed by their existence and concentrating on your own. So many children buckle under peer pressure. So many college kids get goaded into doing things they don’t like to the extent that it they end up ruining their lives. It is important to learn to say no. To put your foot down and draw the line between what is acceptable to you and what isn’t. No one can take the right away from us. All that’s needed is a simple assertion from our end. Within no time at all the notion of fitting in would look like the smokescreen it actually is. Sooner or later, invariably, everyone ends up finding like minded people. Thus, it is imperative to thrive in your individuality rather than to suppress it, to let yourself grow into what you’re meant to be and not what others would like to see you as.

At the end of the day, and also to answer the questions I posed earlier, remember the words of the good ol’ Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland – “We’re all mad here”.

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Pop! Goes the Weasel (Mental Health Awareness #5)

All round the mulberry bush

The monkey chased the weasel 

The monkey thought ’twas all in fun

Pop! goes the weasel.

If you’re a reader, a fan of books, passionate about words, you know all too well that a nursery rhyme is never just that. Right from Dame Agatha Christie who very creatively incorporated lines from rhymes as book titles to set the stage for her mystery sagas (A few notable examples of Christie’s titles being One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, A Pocket Full of Rye, Three Blind Mice, Hickory Dickory Dock – Please feel free to treat these as book recommendations), to Sidney Sheldon whose use of the nursery rhyme quoted above still sent chills down my spine.

In continuation of my regular series aimed at spreading Mental Health Awareness, today I shall be basing my post on a novel titled “Tell Me Your Dreams” by the aforementioned Sidney Sheldon. If you’ve already read the book, then I do not need to fret over revealing spoilers. If you haven’t yet, then, really? why haven’t you?! And do I really need bother about revealing details to such people? Eh, No!

Jokes apart, I wouldn’t dream of spoiling any book for anyone, yet, the topic that I intend to cover today is more important than any of this. So, here it goes. (Please read on, I assure you, you will still enjoy the book even after this.)

Continue reading “Pop! Goes the Weasel (Mental Health Awareness #5)”

The downside of Walter Mitty (Mental Health Awareness #4)

We have all come to know and love the harrowed, milequetoast of a man by the name of Walter Mitty. Be it through Ben Stiller’s portrayal of him in the movie or through the written word of James Thurber, we have all taken an unusual amount of delight in his escapades from the real world, especially from the browbeating of his overbearing wife.
For the uninitiated, Walter Mitty was an avid daydreamer to the extent that he hallucinationed about his daydreams. From a war-time pilot, to a world renowned surgeon, to a roguishly carefree murderer, Walter Mitty became all, albeit in his own mind. He  took no time in creating an Imaginary, idealized, heroic persona of his meek self at the slightest of emotional triggers.

We have all laughed at his antics. We have also sympathised with the poor chap when he invariably got pulled out of his reveries just seconds before his moment of glory. Yet, behind this obsessive facet of the character lurks a deeper, important issue.

It is imperative to not overlook the fact that his daydreams were vivid with great detailing, idealized, to the extent that in them he became the exact opposite of himself, and, lastly, lengthy. Furthermore, on reading between the lines, it becomes quite easy to see that he was a depressed, lonely soul, isolated from most wordly and social interactions.

This isolation and substitution of social interactions with daydreams portraying a glorified sense of self is what I want to bring to your attention today. Coined as Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD), this mental illness has highly debilitating effects on sufferers. Spending hours at a stretch inside a dream, while real life continues, people ailing from MD lose their grasp on reality. While inside a dream, they are oblivious to the passage of time in the real world. They might also not be able to identify their emotional triggers and not be prepared to face them, thereby spiralling into dreams at the most unexpected of times. There have been instances of patients who’ve kept on walking till their feet bled because they’d started daydreaming and did not realise how long it had been. Thus, in effect, it is quite easy to lose oneself if you’re suffering from MD.

This is precisely why it is necessary to spread awareness about this Mental Health issue so that affected persons or their well-wishers can get the required help. I believe every person is beautiful in his or her own right and no one should have to feel so down in the dumps that they have to end up imagining a better version of themselves, a better life for themselves, better friends, better job, better everything rather than actually working towards it. Let us make sure no one gets subjected to such abject misery.

(This is post is a part of my regular feature on Mental Health Awareness. I have previously written on the importance of disseminating awareness on mental health issues here, on depression here, on anxiety here and on self doubt here. If you like and support my efforts in this venture, please share and spread the word. I shall be eternally grateful for this act of kindness on your part. Thank you 🙂 )