How to Rebel
“You need to rebel to see the other options and to get a much richer, fuller sense of the world. And it’s only once you’ve worked through that and seen through that that you can come back and accept who you are. You have to try all the other options.” - Pico Iyer.
Rebel (noun). a person who resists any authority, control, or tradition.
Rebelling sounds bad, doesn’t it? It’s a word with so many negative connotations: insurgent, agitator, traitor, subversive, anarchist. Because why would you disobey the rules? How dare you think or talk or dress differently to everyone else? Who do you think you are to question the status quo? Conform and there’ll be no trouble.
Whether in education, at work or even within relationships, there’s a protocol to how things are run and to differentiate from the norm is to be labelled an outsider. ‘One rule for all’ is the dream sold to us, whether in the road to success, the observation of beauty or the pursuit of happiness. The powers above shout at us, “it’s our way or the highway - fall in line soldier or you’ll never amount to anything."
To excel at school, I played by the rules religiously because really it was less hassle than having to think for myself. Straight A student, Prefect, Captain of female sports - I was winning at life. I even began distrusting the methods of my village born, Nigerian mother, feeling embarrassed by her uneducated decisions because she didn’t adhere to the Western way of life: go to school, get a degree, find a 9-5 job, get married, buy a house, have 2.4 children. Going against the grain was out of the question, regardless of the fact that my mother was an excellent example of taking a different route to success. I fully absorbed the 'there is only one way' framework of the Western world’s guidebook to life.
Entering adulthood and finally free to live my own life, I struggled to think independently because I had always been taught to follow suit. I had cut off the creative thinker and curious explorer in myself because she was shunned by authority and tradition. So I carried on playing ball, unfulfilled yet afraid of being different because that would be too anxiety-provoking and deemed foolish. Sadly, plenty of people feel similarly: frustrated with life but trapped by conformity.
THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO DO THINGS.
Creating Bad Blogger was my way to experiment, to celebrate difference and individuality and find a way to express my own truth. With a recent trip back home to Nigeria, I was reminded yet again that there is more than one way to do things, to behave and to see the world. We don’t all have to share the same values. It’s okay to have differing opinions, to question things and stand out from others without being rejected for fear of descending into chaos. The world isn’t one-size fits-all.
So while society might prefer us as clones who are easier to control, don’t forget that some of the greatest thinkers and leaders of our times were once labelled as terrorists and heretics. Their ideas were laughed at and they were stigmatised for questioning authority or carving out their own destinies, but because they dared to be different they impacted change. New laws were created, new trends were tested and new visions were seen. Hallelujah!
Remember, you cannot impact the world by trying to be like it. I keep striving to find different ways of understanding who I am and what I like, away from public approval, whether in terms of fashion, creativity or general living. Slowly, I’ve begun to write my own rulebook.
To you rebels with a cause, I raise my glass to you.