A million pep talks, biology lesson reminders, and self-reassurances later, she finally gathered enough courage to grab the packet of condoms off the rack. “To hell with society,” she muttered for the umpteenth time. And yet, even as her fingers closed around the packet, the faces of random people – the cashier, a fellow customer, her mother – started popping up in her mind and sucked her strength away. And there it was. That voice. That terrifying voice at the back of her head, becoming more insistent and louder by the minute, repeating the same thing over and over again. Eventually, she gave up and walked on. Even as she exited the pharmacy empty-handed, she could still hear the echo of the three words the voice kept reiterating ‘Log kya kahenge (What will people say)?
This small, yet devastating thought bubble has morphed itself into the puppeteer of social beings. So profound are its effects on people, that this “disease to please” is being referred to as a syndrome. Yes, it’s one nasty disorder all right.
Only a tiny proportion of human beings go on about life on their, and only their terms. For a vast majority of others, pleasing the society comes first. The apprehension, stemming from the thought of how others will react to their decision, is stopping people from doing what they like and ultimately from being who they are.
That girl at the reception wants to badly shave her head. That guy sitting in the corner has an oddly high-pitched voice and wants to socialise. That woman over there has been hesitating to post a cute snap of her in a short skirt on social media for the past hour.
No surprises about what’s stopping them.
Without even realising it, people are training themselves to derive satisfaction from doing things that will draw the least criticism. How pathetic. Because hello, it’s impossible to please everyone. No better example than the tale of the famous Mulla Nasruddin who set off for the market with his son and donkey, and no matter the arrangement of travel (both of them on the donkey, only him on the donkey, only his son on the donkey, and so on), passers-by had something or the other to say.
“Holding on to conditional beliefs about how people should behave toward you because of all you do for them will only set you up to feel disappointment, anger, resentment to people in particular as well as disillusionment about others in general.”
– Harriet B. Braiker in “The Disease to Please”.
The simple fact that ‘what others think about you just doesn’t matter’, is refusing to penetrate people’s brains. Yes, everyone is aware of it to some extent but clouded by social nonsense and shackled by their upbringing, they find it hard to accept. They fail to see sense.
It’s high time people realise what a waste of breath it is to ponder over the opinion of others. One gets to live only for a short span of time on this beautiful planet, which makes it all the more necessary to live our lives to the fullest. And the only way to do this is to buck up and make yourself a priority. You don’t have to answer to anyone, and you don’t gain anything in trying to. Only then will true potentials be realised. Only then will everyone be truly content. Only then will the world be a better place to live in.