life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes

So much has happened since I last made a proper post on this blog. I graduated high school, met my offer for the university of my choice (CAMBRIDGE!) and actually got a 45 in the IB. This summer is a bit like being in a state of suspended animation; it's that time of emptiness between school and university.

Although I am quite enjoying all of this freedom, because it means that I get to read all the books I've been wanting to read (more on that coming soon- I'm working on a roundup of the historical fiction that I read in June!) and do things that during the IB, I just didn't have time for. I've got time to do things that I love-- and after I've completed them, I don't have to write a CAS reflection about them. But still, right now, I feel like I'm floating, just waiting for university to start to kick myself back into gear.

Everything is about to change. For the first time, many members of the Class of 2015 are going to be leaving home and starting afresh in a brand new environment-- maybe even a brand new country. We're all going to have to learn how to adapt, and how to survive by ourselves (which is daunting, considering that until a few days ago, I could barely cook anything without burning it completely). It's not all going to be easy, but there are always going to be ups and downs. We've just got to maintain a positive outlook, assess the situation and remember that everything happens for a reason.

Things are going to be crazy, and I know that over the next few years, I'm going to learn a lot about myself. It's important, though, that we stay true to who we are. We're going to be tested, and sometimes, it'll be easier to follow the crowd. Two years ago, I wrote that there was probably some long psychological reason for this, but as I'd only been taking Psych for a week, I couldn't explain it. After taking Psych for two years, I think I can explain that phenomenon now: we conform to a group because we want to be right, or because we want to be liked. We follow a set of social norms either because we don't know how to act in a certain situation, or because we are afraid of social disapproval.
To anyone who's looking at this photo and thinking "what?!", this is an image of the Asch experiment. Asch (1951) put a single participant in a room full of nine confederates disguised as other participants. He gave them a line and they had to pick which comparison line (A, B or C) was of equal length. The task was so simple that when they did it alone, the participant got the answer right around 100% of the time. However, when in the room, the confederates had been instructed to give an incorrect answer. Despite knowing the correct answer, the participant would change his answer to conform to those given by the confederates. Interviews revealed that this was due to fear of social disapproval.

Here's what I think: the fear of social disapproval is a huge driving force in how many of us behave, but it doesn't have to be. Yes, there are some people who might turn their backs on you if you don't conform, but there are others who'll like you for who you are, and those people are your real friends. I don't see any point in pretending to be someone you're not; after all, there's only one of you, so why deprive the world of a chance to get to know that person?

So as we enter the next stage of our lives, it's important that we remember who we are, through all of the ups and downs. And even if we're not really sure who we are yet, we've got all the time in the world this summer to work towards finding out.

As Eric Roth once said, "It’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be."