Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Conforming to the norm

When I was 17 I realised that I pronounced the word if differently to everyone else. That's right. All my talking years I had been saying "iv" - the same way that you pronounce of. When a fellow student informed me that the proper way to say it was "iff" I thought it sounded weird, but it turned out that everyone said it like that.

So then I had a dilemma: should I change my pronunciation to conform with the accepted standard, or persist with my own unique style? Hmm.

How about when, at secondary school, people noticed that I walked with a bit of a bounce, and started to point it out through little jibes and impressions. Eventually I decided to make a conscious effort to change the way I walked. Was that the right decision? Should I have protected my "individuality" despite the jokes?

A lot gets said about the need to be yourself. It's true, and often individuality is so undervalued. But what "being yourself" actually means depends on how you define yourself in the first place. So if I hold tightly to my identity as English, I might not like the thought of speaking French as a first language. At the end of the day I don't see my identity as being particularly bound to the way I talk or walk, so I don't have much of a problem changing those things.

I do have a problem with the idea that everyone should be the same.

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