Life Choices · Writing

Not Playing Nicely

Growing up, I was taught the value of getting along with others. Moving into adulthood, I learned that building good relationships is a crucial ingredient for success and long-term happiness. Getting along with others shows respect and care, and also increases the chances that others will treat you the same way.

One lesson I was not taught was to go along just to get along. I have never been a person who cuddled other people’s emotions in order to satisfy their implacable need for approval and infantile desire to be liked.

I will not laugh because everyone else is laughing at Jim’s 1,000th failed attempt at humor. I will not wear red because Derek thinks wearing red honors some social cause to which he says I ought to subscribe. Sitting by myself during lunch does not make me antisocial or unfriendly. It just might mean that I prefer being alone.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that embraces the idea that if a person does not conform to groupthink and group identity, that individual should be treated as a pariah and “a problem to be dealt with.”

Reflecting on my childhood, I remember the satisfaction and joy I experienced whenever I would venture left when others were going right. It is not that I was a contrarian (I kinda was); there just had to be a compelling reason for me to do what others thought I should do or how I should behave.

I recall being at my daughters’ JHS basketball game and sitting during the national anthem…in a gun-totting, bible carrying suburb. The hostile or contemptuous looks made me a bit nervous. Still, for the most part, I found these folks patriotic self-aggrandizement more hilarious than frightening.

Should we play nicely with others? Yes. Positive social interaction is a necessary part of human evolution. Bonding and forming good experiences (i.e., playing nicely) is how we have managed to survive and thrive as a species. Playing nicely, however, should not be the reason one gains entry into or becomes accepted by a group.

I should not have to conform to your ideology or become you to be accepted.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you.

4 thoughts on “Not Playing Nicely

  1. I agree you don’t have to conform to someone else’s opinion or belief, especially as one gets older and gets comfortable with their self, however, its a bit tricky when that person is young, in school and is still learning who they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bernice, thanks for sharing. I believe people of all ages are incredibly susceptible to social influence, especially by authority figures and people in power (e.g., politicians, pastors, counselors, coaches, managers, supervisors, etc).

      We’ve all seen or heard stories of how an individual’s beliefs conflicted with groupthink, yet the person went along with the group at his or her peril.

      Social psychologist Solomon Asch maintained that people conform for two primary reasons: (1) to gather information from a group, and adopt those behaviors when applicable; and (2) the desire for others to like us.

      I agree that kids are more susceptible, and that’s mostly due to their underdeveloped cognitive and social reasoning abilities.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thankfully, I never gave in to peer pressure but I felt the awkwardness of not fitting in but I was an unbothered kid 😆. As I grow older I am happy that I never had to change myself to have friends or to “fit in” but looking back at it I understand why people do stuff against their will and personality, it’s because of the lack of acceptance and understanding of others. We are all different and people should accept that and try to compromise for harmonious relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joana, beautifully captured. No one should be made to suffer or experience shame because of some inconsequential personality difference or idiosyncrasy. Everyone is unique and deserves to be celebrated as such.


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