A wise man named Oscar Wilde famously said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”. How apt that he was a man as unconventional as he was wise, an acclaimed playwright whose exuberant nature and determination to live life his way was much admired.
How brave it is to stand out in a crowd and to be unf*kwithable, one of the Urban Dictionary’s newly-minted terms. It’s defined as being impervious to opposition, in a class of your own. Sadly, not every woman in Singapore allows herself to be genuinely her.
The odds are not in our favour. We live in a cookie-cutter society where not fitting in is seen as a rebellion of sorts. Sporting a bright pink buzzcut instead of sleek, dark locks elicits horrified stares in the same way deciding to study spiders in the Amazon rainforest instead of reading law or accountancy provokes tut-tutting from well-meaning relatives.
Women here even dress alike, given that the same old labels are rampant in just about every mall, and the keeping-up with-the-Joneses fervour runs high. We want the same Asos tops, Tiffany & Co. pendants, Gucci fur-trimmed backless loafers, Chanel 2.55s and then some.
We’ve also been ingrained to weigh reactions before they are expressed. In the age of self-censorship, we cover their mouths when we laugh, use dulcet tones and neutral words to be politically correct, and believe taking the high road is always the right thing to do.
Our cultural background may have some bearing on all this. Despite being more cosmopolitan today than ever before, the Asian woman is still shackled by the ball-and-chain that is tradition. Don’t speak up, be obedient, be sweet and submissive — these are just some of the expectations we face.
What happens if you feel like a square peg in a round hole? I say: Break free, and dare to be different. I’ve never quite subscribed to that school of thought that is conventionality; I believe that accepting the be-like-everyone-else mindset is a dangerous one that downplays creativity, promotes #girlsquads and encourages persecution in some shape or form.
Do what you feel strongly about, whether or not you have an entourage for company. Get out there and contribute powerful ideas, help build up important organisations and highlight provocative issues that need addressing. In doing so, you will associate yourself with meaningful causes, and live the fullest life imaginable.
Chase pursuits of lasting value, never bow to pressure to conform. Oh, and if you have to bruise a few egos along the way, feel free — a little badassery never hurt anyone. You’re worthy of so much in this world, and life is too short to live like everybody else.
For more Living stories, head here. Or check out Everyone Needs To Read This Before You Carry On With Your Life or Instagram Is Finally Doing Something To Stop Harassment.