Every so often, I'll conduct a purge on my social media platforms, just to clear out people that I never interact with. During these purging sessions, I'll come across folks that I have unfollowed but can't seem to remember why. So naturally, I proceed to stalk their profile and eventually find status updates or posts in which the person I'm investigating expresses their strong feelings of disgust at how this generation brought forth the end times of monogamy, how other people our age constantly party while said person stays home counting their blessings for revelling in their introversion, obligatory statues about what other girls/boys wear. As I feel their superiority complex transferring to me through my phone screen, I timidly click 'unfriend'.
The need to put ourselves on a pedestal above the general population isn't something that's a completely foreign concept to us. From a very early age, our cultural exposure and influences from media play big roles in perpetuating the notion that there should be an ideal sense of self. For example, being a lover of movies, I was exposed to a wide spectrum of genres and the tropes that came along with them from a very early age. One of the most prominent tropes would be the manic pixie dream girl, a young woman with eccentric tastes and an unconventional way of living that sets her apart from other girls. Another trope would be the tomboy, a girl who opts for traditionally masculine traits and interests and exhibits a carefree attitude. In retrospection, I can fully admit that these tropes had a massive impact in the way that I carried myself in my early teens, as is the case with many other women. While it is fine to develop your own interests with the help of these idealised, dream-like characters, it treads a precarious line with developing internalised misogyny, which is very common.
However, the habit of excluding oneself from the majority of the population is not exclusive to women only. Nearly every facet of an average person's life possesses some form of this need to be different. People can distinguish themselves by comparing their tastes in music, literature, films etc. Not only that, a person's behaviour can also be scrutinised by forming ideals of how they should actually carry themselves. The biggest problem with this is how everything is subjective. What one person may deem to be “proper” may not actually be to someone who doesn't share the same mentality. As a result, this causes a hive mentality between like-minded individuals, but also cause divides of internalised misogyny and superiority/inferiority complexes.
The key to combatting this is to practise tolerance and self-acceptance. It has helped me immensely when I let go of the need to put down other people to validate myself and I'm confident that it'll help others, too. We're all stuck on this big rock together so we might as well practise being more open-minded to harmless interests/hobbies/activities and be a bit more kinder to ourselves and each other.
Fatima Jahan Ena considers herself to be a chaotically neutral egg with feelings. Fight her at email@example.com