The Art of Life|Sep 30, 2005 11:29 AM| by:

What does Society Expect of Us?

That’s a question that will take most of us a lifetime to answer!

Are we socially more acceptable if we are thin, fat, short, tall, rich or poor?

There are many social pressures evident in today’s society.  One major pressure is that of image. Somewhere along the line, I’m sure many of us have wanted to alter our outer appearance to please or appeal to other people.

Don’t get me wrong – looking good will make you feel great, but where does one draw a line as to how much one will do and how far one will go to please others?  I know from my own experience how easy it is to cross that line or keep shifting it and become obsessed with others’ perception of us. After all that was said and done, I realised that “This LINE” shouldn’t really exist – we shouldn’t actually try to change ourselves, whether it be our personality or our physical appearance, just to please others.

People may be more drawn to you for a while but if it’s detrimental to your own mental or physical health, is it really worth it? I ask because I have experienced these very social pressures – as we all do at some point in our lives.

Often people would comment on how fat I was.  They would compare me to other “slim” people.  Gradually it started hurting so much that I took extreme measures to lose weight.  I practically stopped eating and just to be able to fit into a size 8”, I lost over 50 kg.  I became obsessed with my weight and my figure and could think of nothing else.  I fasted most of the day, looked for all possible ways for controlling my hunger and avoiding things that I liked eating.  I got panicky if I took even one extra spoonful.  The result was that I lost both my physical health and my inner happiness.

I no doubt managed to get that pencil “slim” figure everyone was talking about.  But, frankly speaking, I wasn’t happy.  In fact, I was miserable.  My life and personality had changed for the worse.  Everything was slipping away.

It was when I lost this inner, true, pure happiness that I realised that others’ comments shouldn’t dictate my life.  I am not going to lie to you.  It took extreme will power and strength to resist the comments that people made.  It was very, very difficult.  There were many ups and downs.  But slowly and gradually I started to return to a healthy and normal life.  I learnt to appreciate and love myself.  It was this that gave me willpower and strength.  Every  day was a new battle.

It’s easy for persons to pass unpleasant comments on another, but what really tests our character is how we can remain unaffected by these comments. Others will be forever judging various aspects of our lives, but as long as we are content and fulfilled, as long as we are clear as to what we want in our lives, it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter what others think.

At the end of it all, all that really matters is what is manifesting in our hearts and souls.

Keeping a sound physical and mental state is a great help, but I have found it is not enough to enable one to choose and decide what one wants to be and do.  For this, we need to go closer to our soul, to find the true purpose of life and the strength within ourselves to realise it.

We all have it in us – some may be more in tune with this power and strength than others, but we can all do it.

Someone once told me “Love yourself first, then and only then are you able to love others”.  Most of us believe we love ourselves, but what we love is the others’ image of ourselves.  We need to find and love our ‘real’ selves.  Then, not only will there not be any fear of social acceptance or rejection, but we will be able to love others too in a way, which will help them to be what they really want to be.

Reena Patel

(Reena is a student staying & studying in London. She enjoys giving happiness to others.)   

  • http://Website Ruchita

    In this article, the author has spoken my mind. Glad to know that someone else feels the same way.

  • http://Website Mirra

    Reena’s article “What does Society expect of Us” is excellent; she has beautifully explained the most common problem majority of us carry within.