A lot of advice you will see about personal style, grooming, and the way you interact with people will have one overriding feature: blend in. Be a part of the crowd, be acceptable to societal norms.
It’s no surprise this is such an important function for us as humans. For our evolutionary ancestors, blending in was not just a matter of choice – it was an essential. As the descendants of that tribal culture, it’s no surprise that we still feel a desire to be in with the “in” crowd. We don’t want to feel isolated; it might not make us vulnerable to predators anymore, but a feeling of isolation can give rise to depression and anxiety. Considering that depression is already a serious concern for young men, why would you want to risk it?
On the flip side, there is also a constant barrage of encouragement to do the exact opposite. It’s shocking how the dynamic works. On one side, you’re told to blend in, fit in with style norms, and your DNA backs up your desire to do this. On the other, we’re told that being ‘different’ is good! It’s to be celebrated! Stand out from the crowd!
How on earth do we make sense of all this?
Your Individuality Is Valuable
While you may hanker to fit in with what is generally accepted of you, your individuality should be embraced. No one is going to be on their deathbed thinking: “I wish I’d blended in more…”
However – and this is key – you can’t force it. You have to go with your natural inclinations. Ever think an outfit might be better with more colour than is currently considered fashionable or sophisticated? Want to try turning up for a coffee on a Swegway rather than just walking? Or perhaps it extends to how you conduct yourself – maybe be more outgoing, quicker to adapt to new people?
All of the above would fit into the category of standing out from the crowd, but most of us tend to quell our instinctive impulses for something different.
It’s All About Confidence
Let’s say you go to a formal event in black-tie. There is a man there who is wearing a lurid striped suit. Behind his back, people may laugh, but there will inevitably be someone who says: “he can pull it off though”.
He’s not really pulling it off – but he’s making people think that. The way he’s doing so is simple: he’s doing something different and that alone is enough to make it work. But it takes a huge amount of confidence to go for it, to be willing to be ridiculed in pursuit of making yourself happy above others.
If you want to use an unusual mode of transport, then try it out for a quick run to the corner shop where you’re unlikely to see anyone you know. See how it feels, building your confidence up to use it at other times when judgement might feel riskier. The same goes for an outlandish outfit or just being more friendly to other people; try it, sample the feeling, and see if the reality feels as good as you suspect it will.
In the vast majority of cases, earlier experimentation will be positive. From there, you’ll have the confidence to buck the trend and stand out – for all the right reasons.