Two years ago, my psychology professor said something that still resonates with me today. He said, “when you don’t care about what others think, you will live a healthier life”. Upon hearing this statement, I recalled many instances in my life where I cared a lot about how others will perceive me and thus, would use impression management strategies to influence my outlook. Ever since that class, I’m on a quest of the “How”. HOW do I stop myself from caring too much about what others think and live my life based on what I think?
In today’s dominant discourse, everyone is seeking conformity. We want to be liked by everyone else so that we are not the odd-one-out. A famous experiment was performed by Solomon Asch that illustrates how important it is for us to conform with others so that we are not “wrong”. We don’t want to be like Pinocchio with long nose because then everyone will point fingers at us. We want to have the “ideal” appearance. We want to be the “bricks in the wall” (something my English Professor would say), just like everyone else. The problem with that is that we will only be one-of-the-bricks-in-the-wall. We will loose our creativity and imagination, and our ability to have goals and values if conformity becomes our ultimate goal (again, something I learned in English class).
We are all actors but the only difference between actors on the big screen and us is that we don’t get paid. We use impression management all the time and we shape our appearance based on how others perceive us, a concept known as “looking-glass self”. But how long can we keep up with the dominant discourse dynamic demands?