I have always tried to stray from the crowd, subtly. Instead of giving in to a burger, I'll make myself a delicious salad or sandwich. Instead of following them over there, I'll stand over here; independent, free from the crowd. Instead of drinking alcohol like everyone else, I'll have fun and dance sober.
I don't follow trends, rarely use social media, never gossip, refrain from hookups, eat healthy, and the list goes on. But underneath the aura of my individualistic, strange, "old- soul" habits, I want to be accepted. I want to belong. I want to be liked and respected by those around me. So I stray slightly from the path, but return when the road gets dangerously rocky, and lonely.
In our individualistic society, we're taught to embrace our uniqueness, because if we don't, who else will? Yet, there comes a point when being too different means becoming a pariah of society; when "unique" means "weird," and your quirks make you incomprehensible to others. There's no denying the fact that people like others who share common interests and opinions-- it's a form of connection. Being too different prevents you from being understood. I used to be embarrassed of my secret desire to fit in, in spite of my public insistence against popular trends, music, and habits. But now I'm starting to realize that it's perfectly fine to want to be liked. It's fine to follow the crowd once in a while, as long as you still think for yourself.
I'm starting to realize that our strange desire to be different is in itself, an attempt to be liked. Because everyone likes the free-thinker, no one likes a doormat. The trick is balance. Balance that urge to fit in and that desire to be "unique."