In a society where there is growing pressure to satisfy everyone, individuals feel obligated to seek approval, which adds even more stress for those who are socially disadvantaged. The prevailing notion that meeting others’ expectations brings about success is widely accepted because of this societal force. Nevertheless, my father provided me with an alternative viewpoint. Whenever I attempted to conform by pleasing others, he would consistently remind me with his famous phrase: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
Previously, I had a limited number of close friends and ignored my father’s advice to fit in by pretending to have similar interests as others. Unlike my peers, I didn’t spend much time watching TV. As I grew older, I felt more compelled to be attractive and recognized the importance of doing whatever was necessary to please girls my age.
I had multiple conversations with my parents about various topics. First, I inquired about getting my ears pierced. Another time, I asked for make-up supplies. I also expressed my desire for a cellphone since all of my friends had one. Additionally, I requested that they lift the rule against watching television so I could socialize with peers. However, each time, they firmly declined by saying “No.” Their reasoning followed typical parental lines such as “That’s too expensive!” or “You don’t need it,” and “You will have to pay for it and take care of it,” occasionally mentioning potential health risks.
My dad always emphasized the significance of not trying to please everyone and staying true to oneself. He would lecture me extensively on this matter whenever I asked him. He also talked about how my peers often engaged in “herd mentality” and faced peer pressure. In conclusion, he would remind me that I had three choices: leading, following, or stepping aside. However, he cautioned that opting to lead might result in having no followers.
After numerous lectures, his words eventually resonated with me. Although I still experienced pressure to satisfy others, my true identity became more appealing to people as I behaved authentically. Consequently, I gained numerous friends and even achieved popularity among unfamiliar individuals. Hence, attempting to please everyone proved futile while remaining genuine effortlessly pleased others.