I was taught to reflect and not shine

Staring at the sun

I was reading something this week — I can’t remember what, or where, which is really annoying. I wish I’d bookmarked it — about how our postmodern society doesn’t really encourage people to express their individuality. Instead people are encouraged to conform: by the media, by the entertainment industry (music and film), by our peers. We’re taught to reflect and not shine. People are becoming like our high streets: homogenous, corporate-controlled affairs. And I don’t think that it’s a good thing.

It certainly goes some way to explain the whole worshipping the cult of celebrity thing that seems to have gripped our society. Only the few who are allowed to excel are celebrated. And yet, it seems to me that as soon as someone steps into the celebrity sphere they too are required to conform to a new set of the the same ‘rules’.

Searching Google, I found an interesting article entitled Consequences of Conformity.

Lack of individuality plagues society as a whole. Those who have the courage and confidence to express themselves are the “coolest” people. In a world of conformity made up of black and white, it is good to throw a hint of the rainbow in every once in a while just for kicks and self-esteem.

Quite right!

My dad died in January 1998, I didn’t realise it then but looking back I can now see that my self-confidence took an enormous battering; self-confidence and self-esteem. I didn’t believe in myself, I couldn’t see the point in trying to achieve anything. I found my curacy hard enough, and this certainly didn’t help! My response was that I wanted to blend in to society, to conform, to hide.

Nearly eight years on I’m now regaining my self-esteem and self-belief — which is good timing, just as my current post is coming to an end — and I want to achieve something, to make a difference.

Now … what could it be?

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 46 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Currently on sabbatical. I am a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir.

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