Coming up in my teens I always loved when my friends and I would get together to hang out, goof around, and watch some of our favorite shows that would come on like Sex and the city, Noah’s Arc, or Keyshia Cole The Way It Is. These would be times I always looked forward to because we would just be chill, laugh and have no worries for the time being. Often when we would get together we would have a little to drink and most times we would smoke weed. For me smoking weed was recreational and something I would par take in all the time with my friends. Although I really enjoyed smoking weed it was something that always had a particular effect on me. It caused me to become very self conscious and paranoid. I would think about a lot of things that I didn’t have to think about and it would intensify my insecurities. Because I would mostly do it around my friends I always felt ok, but when I would smoke around people I didn’t know I would often times close up and become almost paralyzed with anxiety. Because everybody would be so cool with it, I assumed it was always just me thinking like that.
Over the years my habit of smoking weed increased and it came to the point that I was smoking it more than three times a day. Before you knew it, I needed to smoke everyday, and if I wasn’t able to I felt as if I was missing out on something. I needed it like medicine. Even though I still had the experience of anxiety and blurred mental vision when I would smoke I still continued to smoke heavily. Anytime something disappointing happened to me I would use weed as a crutch to subside my anguish. Besides the mental blur and anxiety I noticed I would be less energetic and I would crave snacks and have what is most commonly referred to amongst weed smokers as the “munchies”. I would be eating snacks, become lazy, having occasional anxiety, along with mental impulses, with no action behind them. When I think back on these times I wonder how I really got through it all and still made something of myself.
Well, I did know how. I stopped smoking as frequently. As I became busier with work, I started teaching and doing platform work. I knew that in order for me to take things to a higher level I needed to make some sacrifices and I needed to eventually have more time to stay focused. What I came to know was that when I smoked weed I was slower in my thinking and reactions to things I only really smoked because a lot of people who were around me smoked. Ultimately I only smoked because I felt social pressure to smoke, I was used to giving in to the social pressure, I was what my friends and I had shared in common for so many years. Once I decided not to conform to my own inner self inflicted pressures I started to achieve more and I was more focused allowing myself to produce more mental work then I had been able to do in my past. I was on fire with inspiration and mental contemplation but this time I was able to execute more of the ideas that came to my head versus spending a lot ofttimes just daydreaming about the ideas I had in my head.
This is just an example of how conformity can really play a huge part in holding you back from doing what’s right. Because we are human we naturally fall in line when we see a lot of people getting on board with an idea. An example of that is the 1916 Waco, Texas Lynching of 17 year old Jesse Washington who was tortured, mutilated, and burned before he was lynched in front of a crowd of over 10,000 spectators. This crowd that formed, did so without anyone stepping in to stop it from happening despite many who knew it was inhuman, cruel, and disgustingly wicked. It is an exaggerated example of conformity. It takes courage to stand alone and to speak out against the majority. This plays out in many different ways however in today’s times we see many people speaking out against the injustices that have been happening for hundreds of years here in America. It takes courage to acknowledge that the majority of people could be wrong.
Experiencing conformity, in my own way, I can now recognize when something doesn’t suit me. There is something inside you that speaks and lets you know that this isn’t right. Most chose to ignore that voice, but the more I grow the more I know that that voice will never go away when you ignore it. It just gets louder and louder until it’s eventually yelling at you. No matter what, you have to listen to the voice inside that urges you to take a stand for the peace that your soul yearns for. You have to even if that peace requires you to take a stand as a minority of one against a majority of many.