The Japanese say that you have three faces. The first you show to the majority of the world, the second is reserved for your loved ones and the third is the one that no one will never lay eyes upon. The last face is a reflection of your ‘truest’ self. A curious concept, though one that I think a lot of people may find familiar, for when was the last time that anyone really felt secure, confident or comfortable enough to unapologetically be themselves?
Apart from the unity, (relative) security and order that society comes with, the norms and regulations that enforce these desirable qualities also come at a price. The structure of society comes in the form of norms and etiquette that both standardize and limit human expression and interaction. A very recent example would be the Indian Constitution’s Section 377, which until very recently grouped sexual interaction between people of the same sex “against the order of nature” and deemed it illegal. While it is fortunate that it has been abolished, society itself largely remains judgemental against what it considers “unnatural”. The scars you may have on your arms, the tattoos you may bear on your neck, the career that you choose, the clothes you choose to wear, almost every single part of you that can be seen is placed under the misplaced scrutiny of society and its views.
With this scrutiny in place, we often set standards of “acceptance” that we adhere to so that we aren’t condemned for our external appearances. Similarly, we have internal stopgaps that censor our behavior in public and with our families. In this way, societal views are allowed to control how much you express, how much you say and how much you openly feel, views that have been conditioned gradually. While I do not condemn this conditioning, I do feel that as sentient beings, those who have the “sixth” sense, we must evolve our society because of the negative implications these archaic views may have.
What are the implications of such societal views, you ask?
- “Self” – The sense of self that we all have is something we do not give much thought to. Introspection, the key to knowing ourselves, is seldom used to open up and find ourselves. Our priorities get muddled as we lose sight of what and who is important to us. And all of this goes back to simply understanding our sense of “self”. To bring to light how important it is, the “self” comprises of what you have experienced, as well as what you like and dislike. And all of these things influence what you want, what you wish and what you hope for.
All of these essential parts of our lives and their clarity are often muddled and distorted by the limitations society’s views place upon us. The “faces” we wear to be deemed acceptable by society are so often placed on our true selves that they may get stuck. And we let these “faces” influence us, or rather, we are influenced by them. It is not just our mannerisms and our speech, but more the integral parts of our being that are shifted towards more conventional or socially acceptable directions.
- Apart from this, societal views could impact your mental health. Making a constant effort to bite back your words, to change who you are and to continuously wonder if you are accepted and liked by the people around you is taxing on the body and the mind. This constant struggle may lead to depression and identity crises, especially when you doubt whether it is okay to keep so much repressed inside.
And in the process of trying to change yourself to be socially acceptable, you may begin to question yourself and the small things that you may have once doubted about yourself will grow into things that you are very insecure about.
Ask yourself this: how long will you maintain this facade? How long will you be someone you’re not, simply because society does not approve? I only ask because I need to know if we have reached the next step; if we can accept humanity for its diversity, its individuality and its beauty. Or will the unbridled freedom of expression bring about a repeat of the Salem witch trials?
Change starts with an individual, an outlier, a person who knows what they want the world to be and what they want to be in the world. Take some time to get to know yourself. Find out where you draw the line while interacting with others. Determine just to what extent you want others to influence you. Discover your third face, the one that depicts who you truly are. And once you have, will you be the first to show the world your third face?