As the whole world already knows, Ireland has voted to legalize same-sex marriage, with 62.1% backing the proposed change to the country’s constitution. As defiened by many, equality is a state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in certain respects, often including civil rights, freedom of speech, property rights, and equal access to social goods and services. Makes it pretty damn hard to be individual when you are all equal and stuff, right? Wait, am I allowed joke around about this stuff now? But even though equality has been granted for all in Ireland, it has not been for many others around the world, and many of thos people struggle with individuality due to a stigmatised society.
I'm fairly certain that everyone who reads this post has been asked at some point in their lives, by a disgruntled parent, irate teacher or responsible adult of any kind - "So if they jumped off a cliff would you do it to?" The answer would invariably be yes, because everyone likes to think that they're cool, and if everybody is doing it then jumping off a cliff has to make you super cool and anyone that doesn't, can thenceforth be referred to by any number of cruel and childish names, like 'stinky pants' or 'loser' or 'would like to preserve his own life rather than jump to an almost certain death with the misguided idea that it will make him cool...Loser.' To put it simply, do we follow the crowd, or do we remain the individual?
Individuality is a very difficult subject to cover because by the very nature of individuality it is hard to tell other people how to achieve it. I mean, how can one be individual if one is to follow someone else's advice? The case for being a stylish individual is a good one; no matter how we try to dress it up with polite conversation and manners, we as males are all in direct competition with each other - every man wants to be top dog and to get the lion's share. In the past we would settle this by seeing who could hunt the most woolly mammoths and other such primal activities. Luckily things have moved on considerably and we've all left our loincloths in the proverbial loft of manhood.
In modern times it's all about success; who is the most financially successful? Who is the most successful with women (or men)? And who is the most stylish? To be the alpha male, I think you have to do something that separates you from the crowd (yes, I have said it once again). You don't want to look like everyone else, and being an individual makes you more noticeable to everyone. It also makes you seem more confident, a man who is truly comfortable with himself; if you look like a man who has mastered himself, then you look like a man who has or can master every other problem that life might conjure up.
On the other hand however, there is also a strong argument against individuality, and to see it you only have to walk down your local high street and look out for all those people who have refused to "conform". These people have decided to have their hair cut into a blue Mohawk, or decided that excessive facial piercing is the correct way to show their contempt for mainstream culture. I consider myself to be a stylish person - as I'm sure you all do too - and like me I imagine that you are equally horrified when you see (what are probably lovely) people dressed like that. It's enough to make anyone run to their favourite local high street fashion store and dress like one of the window mannequins. Now of course this is an extreme example, and there are many more subtle ways to stand out and be an individual, but the conundrum is still the same; how much is too much without becoming "try-hard" instead?
Now to offer my two pence on the subject: I'm a great advocate of finding what Aristotle called the golden meaning in life - in other words, to find the happy medium. In terms of individuality, it must be executed in exactly the right way. Too little individuality and you become a victim and a slave to things like trends, too much individuality and you might be seen as a bit of an eccentric oddball.
Each and every one of us lives in a world that is doing its best to change us night and day, there is no denying that. It is so important to be nobody-but-yourself. As I've mentioned before it is always going to be a difficult subject to write about, and I'm sure you will all have your own opinions on what individuality is and whether it's a good thing or a bad thing. Labels can dent your sense of individuality and just as the picture above suggests, I have been labelled all my life - as I'm sure many of you have - but how you get over those labels is far more important. Oscar Wilde once said: "Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation".