Peer Pressure

Being Normal Means Being Yourself

Be Yourself(Photo Credit: Tumblr )

When being “normal” is defined as being yourself, then what could possibly be wrong with being normal?  Nothing!  The reason why I choose to define being normal as being yourself is you first learn how to be your normal self; that is, the person who you really are.  People in the postmodern epoch are fervently concerned with trying to be “different.”  Unfortunately, their efforts to try to be different cause them to become people alien to their authentic self.

In “What White Publishers Won’t Print,” Zora Neale Hurston writes, “Difference is misreading of sameness, but it must be represented in order to be erased.  The resistance to finding out that the other is the same springs out of the reluctance to admit that the same is other.”  Many people’s efforts to appear to be different take them away from realizing the full power and potential of being who they really are.  One shouldn’t feel compelled to attempt to be different—you’re already different when you’re born.  When you try to be different, you’re really just attempting to be like everyone else; you’re striving for societal and peer acceptance, which many believe it requires doing the same things others are doing to maintain their cool pose.

Dr. Cornel West says, “Too many young folk have addiction to superficial things and not enough conviction for substantial things like justice, truth and love.”  While Dr. West’s statement is profound without any modifications, I contend that it’s not only young people who “have an addiction to superficial things and not enough conviction for substantial things like justice, truth, and loves,” but also a tremendous number of adults embrace the superficial over the substantial.  Many grown 20 to 50 year old men and women are still uncomfortable being themselves, so they elect to adopt identities they feel society will adore.  These identities are masked by their pronouncements that they’re “different.”  They say they’re different to protect themselves from charges that they’re not being themselves.  If you genuinely desire to be different, then simply be who you are—do and say what comes natural.

Being normal is not being average.  Living a false image of being different is average; in fact, it’s below average.

Resist the postmodern American impulse to be who society says you have to be.  It’s okay to be who you are.  You will find that you will live a happier life when you make the choice to be who you really are.

Are you really able to tell someone who you really are?

There’s nothing wrong with improving yourself, but you should never deny yourself the opportunity to experience the true freedom to live life without limitations, borders and boundaries.

Be happy.  Be free.  Be you.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Drop Out of Popularity Contests

Don’t waste your time in life trying to get everyone to like you.  Additionally, don’t worry about trying to keep those who like you now to remain liking you—just do you.  You will find that you will live a happier life when you’re more concerned with doing things that please you.  When you devote too much time to attempting to figure out what is going to satisfy every single person around you, then you will lose who you are in all of those efforts to please everyone.  You cannot be all things to everyone.  In no way does this piece advocate for you to be a selfish person, it just acknowledges you have to take time for yourself to enjoy the things you love to do.  You have to appreciate yourself.

When you periodically do things that are totally for yourself, this does not make you a selfish person—it makes you a person who understands that you cannot truly know how to be happy for someone else until you’ve made yourself happy.  Don’t depend on other people to make you happy.  You have the ability within yourself to make yourself happy.  When you depend on other people to be happy, then you’re going to face a significant number of disappoints in life.  You may never be truly happy when you wait on others to create true happiness within you.

True happiness originates within yourself.  Yes, others can and will help your happiness to mature but don’t let others be the foundation of your happiness.  If other people are the foundation of your happiness, it will inevitably crumble.

Too many people are far too focused on how they can get everyone to like them.  You must understand that everyone will not like you.  Some people will not like you without any rationale—don’t try to force them to like you because you won’t win them over.  It’s better to have one or two good or great friends than to hang around a thousand people who you’ve fooled yourself that they’re your friends just so you can tout you have such a large number of friends.  It certainly does not seem like you’re attempting to truly please yourself when you do this type of thing.

Participating in popularity contests will leave you exhausted, empty, disappointed, and unhappy.

Live in your own spotlight!

Have enough confidence in yourself to believe you can do whatever you desire to do.  When people tell you that you cannot do something, transfer their negativity into positive energy.  You don’t have to settle for doing the popular things that will gain you instant approval from people who are looking for microwave success.  You have to know that if the path to success you have carefully planned takes years and not days, that you’re going to reach your goals and you’re no lesser of a success story than those who were fortunate to achieve success in a shorter period of time.  For those who achieve success in a shorter period of time than you, please be sure that they’re truly successful and not putting on a visage of success.

Worry about yourself sometimes.  Stop looking for approval from other people.  People who win popularity contests really lose tremendously in the game of life.

Enjoy life.  Be stress free.  Live free!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Parents Get Your Kids Some New Clothes For School If You Can


As the new school year begins for students situated in K-12, I would like to let parents know that one of their most important priorities should be to purchase their children some new name brand clothes for the upcoming school year. Although I know that the primary concern of great parents is to make sure that their children have all the necessary supplies and books required for their academic success, I would just like you to know that your children have another barrier to their academic success: their clothing. When students come to schools, they can face serious ridicule for not having on some of the latest fashions or some name brand clothes. While I’m at it, let me go ahead and tell you to make sure that you get them some name brand shoes too.

When your children arrive at school, they do not only face the fear of being critiqued negatively by their teachers on their assignments, but also experience a fear of a harsher critique: the critique of their clothing by their peers. Now, parents you can say that this is not an important issue that you need to concerned about with your children, but I have had the opportunity to witness how children were picked at about their clothing when I was in school and even now from my interactions with various K – 12 schools. Although I was fortunate to have parents who could afford to buy me the lastest fashions and shoes, many of my classmates were not able to do so. If you don’t have that much money to buy your children a bunch of new name brand clothes, then make sure that you try to make a sacrifice and purchase them one or two namebrand outfits that will help them to make a positive statement, and this will help them to combat negative peer criticisms about their clothing.

Even here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I have people who try to hate on me about my clothing because I have the money to dress nice whenever I feel like it, and they are mad because they work so hard to dress nicely everyday but don’t have the money to do it. Because these people lack the money to try to meet their high fashion desires for their everyday wear, for which they don’t have the money to do, they end up putting on wild and crazy stuff to get attention and to compensate for the fact that they don’t have the money to dress in high fashions everyday. When I do elect to dress nicely in expensive name brand clothing, they hate on me by saying that my clothes are average or forgettable. Lol! Now, parents just imagine if I face this as a grown man, just picture what your child goes through during their K – 12 experience.

I know that we are experiencing tremendously tough economic times, but I would encourage you to make a sacrifice for your children and try to purchase them at least one or two new name brand outfits for school. You might even just try to buy them a pair of name brand shoes so that they can at least wear them everyday. I know you are probably saying that I am focusing too much on your child’s clothing, but I can tell you that it will make a world of difference in their academic achievement if you would make some sacrifices for them to let them wear some name brand clothing. They face great peer pressure and attacks at school about many things, including what they wear. By investing in name brand clothing for them, you can make a significant difference in their lives.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Don’t Be A Flip-Flop

It seems everywhere I go the only kind of people that I encounter and even can find to hang with are individuals who are striving to seek the path that is going to be most acceptable for those around them. These people are not willing to live a free life—one where they really do not care about what people say about them. Instead, they live a life of constant contradictions. One day they are this way and the next day they are this way. I am completely exhausted with people who live their lives saturated with contradictions. This article is aimed at exposing people who live their lives saturated with contradictions and to call people to stop living lives full of contradictions.

I define a “flip-flop” as a person who changes with the wind and goes in whatever direction the wind blows. A “flip-flop” is a person who does not have a mind of his or her own—this person is a fusion of multiple people, people who also do not have minds of their own. He or she says whatever is popular but does not really believe what is said. A flip-flop acts and speaks one way with you, changes up around another person, then changes again around another person, changes again around another person, and constantly changes each time he or she interacts with another person. I am so amazed at how many of these flip-floppers are able to even keep up with all of their identities and personas. It seems like being a flip-flop is a miserable life—constantly having to be on stage and perform for the various audiences one encounters throughout each day. All the covering up, posturing, posing, and masquerading seems like it makes these flip-floppers less and less relevant each day—almost to the point they are more valuable dead than taking up space on the earth.

I do not desire for people to be exactly like me—trust me, it’s impossible! What I do desire for people is for them to be authentic, love themselves, make a contribution to the world and earth that only they can make, and to refuse to be a cheap copy of anyone else. I want what is best for you and I know that what is best for you is to be yourself. Whatever would cause you to live a life of constant contradictions is not worth wasting your life over. You waste your life when you make a serious commitment to intentionally living a life of contradictions.

What becomes so problematic with flip-floppers is they jeopardize their relationships with the people who really love and care about them—those who choose not to flip-flop. Because flip-floppers often intentionally elect to do things to hurt their non-flip-flopping friends just to live their unauthentic lives, they threaten the continuation of meaningful, lasting, and true friendships. It is my hope that flip-floppers will understand that the other flip-floppers that they consider to be their friends are not really their friends. If you are living a flip-flopping life just to please other people, then you have willingly allowed yourself to be enslaved.

Flip-flopping makes people question your trustworthiness. When people lack faith in your ability to stay true to yourself, then they turn away from you and you will inevitability be on an island by yourself, even though you may be surrounded by numerous people. Those people who will remain around you are your fellow flip-floppers.

If you contend that you are not a flip-flopper, then why do you hide what you do? Why do you lie? Why do you say that you don’t care about what people say, but then get all mad when people make comments about you? Why do you have to go to such extremes to present an unauthentic identity? Why are you not grounded in truth? Why are you consumed with contradictions? Why do you live one way in the day and another way at night? Why do you profess to be a Christian, especially on Sundays, but do things on all other days that will cause you to bust Hell wide open? Why does life’s light winds blow you in so many directions? Why does the mirror reflect so many identities and personas? Why are you uncomfortable with yourself? Why are you always trying out new identities? Why are you always on stage?

Revolutionary Paideia is committed to the “Be Yourself Movement” it launched last month. This Movement is committed to helping people to appreciate their true selves and to living lives of authenticity—not lives of lies and contradictions. Don’t allow your life to become defined by lies and contradictions! Live a life of true meaning, true direction, and true originality. Live free or die!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Nothing’s Wrong With Being Yourself

It seems like no matter where I go people are  unwilling to be themselves. I have thought critically for years about why people are unwilling to be themselves and arrived at two dominant reasons: they lack courage and have unsatisficatory self-esteem. This lack of courage and satisificatory self-esteem has caused many people their chances at great success. While growing up in elementary, middle, and high school in Monticello, Georgia, some of my good friends who had opportunities to be great talents and college educated failed by the wayside because they lacked the courage and healthy self-esteem to combat peer pressure. They were unwiling to fight against the peer pressure that dared them to be different. Some of my Black male friends (while growing in Monticello, Georgia) resolved that getting good grades made you gay, so they elected to devote themselves to the “thug life” instead. I still love them very much and am not bashing them. I just wanted better for them and still do. Anyone who knows me well understands that I will do anything to help anyone, so don’t think that I’m being elitist at all!

While going to school in Albany, Georgia at Albany State University, I found that even college students lacked courage and satificatory self-esteem. Because some of them lacked the courage to resist not being “cool,” they flunked out of school. While attending the University of Arkansas, I saw how the lack of courage and satisificatory self-esteem caused some people to simply hate me because I had the willingness to be courageous enough to be myself. Guess what? I loved them then and love them now. See life is about loving one another. We often have to unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse people to make them better. This is what I do. It’s a tough job and is often misunderstood and mischaracterized but it’s an essential job for the betterment of human beings.

Since I have been here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a little over a year, I have been amazed at how unwilling people are to be themselves. Of course, my past experiences have taught me that many people lack a willingness to be themselves, but I have never witnessed how vexing this problem is until coming to Madison, Wisconsin. While here, I have experienced a person who de-friended me simply because she is miserable that she is unattractive and has not been able to get any man to pay her any attention in Madison, Wisconsin. I have also witnessed people who have betrayed me because they are envious and jealous of me. People have violated state and federal laws to try to undermine and prevent me from achieving some things while I have been here, because they are simply unsettled, unnerved, and unhoused by how completely happy I am to just be me. Guess what? I love them!

University of Wisconsin-Madison has given me the opportunity to see like never before the tremendous posturing, posing, lying, and masquearading people are willing to engage in just to hide who they reallly are. I have seen men who have demonstrated that they like other men, but will go to extremes just to prove to people they are not gay. I have also witnessed men who have been and are engaged in relationships with other women just so no one will call them gay. I have witnessed people with Ph.Ds who are jealous and envious of graduate students because they are about to graduate from an institution far more prestigious than the ones in which they graduated. How pathetic! Unlock the chains of bondage that you have placed on yourself!

If you are not willing to live free, then why want you just save yourself a whole lot of misery and just die? If you would think about it, when you are not willing to live your life freely, you are actually dead anyway.

It has to be a miserable life to worry about what other people are saying about you. It has to be a miserable life to try to live your life like others would have you to live it. It has to be a miserable life to pretend to be something you’re not. It has to be a miserable life to be gay and pretend to be straight. It has to be a miserable life to get a woman pregnant while having sex with men locally and across the country. It has to be a miserable life to feel like you’re unattractive and undesirable. It has to be a miserable life to know that you love your girlfriend or wife, but you don’t have the courage and self-esteem to resist the pressure of maintaining a “player” status. It has to be a miserable life to know that no one in your academic department likes you after you have tirelessly tried to be everyone’s friend. Guess what? I love you. I hope my love gives you a bit optimism.

Dare to be yourself! Dare to be free! Dare to fight peer pressure! Dare to combat low self-esteem! Dare to be courageous! Guess what? I love you all!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Fear of Those Who Resist Social Cloning and Psychic Slavery

Mental Slavery

What I am often unsettled and unnerved by is the reality that many people always want me to be like them. Because I am willing to be myself, this unsettles, unnerves, and unhouses them in fundamental ways. I am a truly emancipated Black man. This means that I do not allow societal expectations and norms to limit me in any way. Even though I am tremendously happy with being a truly emancipated Black man, this does not stop people from attempting to change me and make me more like them. What I have learned is people want to change me because they do not want me to outshine them, and they do not want me to make them feel uncomfortable and embarrass them in front of their friends and colleagues. The purpose of this article is to explain the phenomenon of “social cloning,” explain the problems “social cloning” engenders, and elucidate why it is important to resist.

I know you have to be saying—what is “social cloning”? Just to make my definition clear to you, “social cloning” is the process by which people force others to be more like them or exactly like them. It seems that people do not want you to be “different.” For some reason, “difference” threatens the safety of their embracement of hegemony, the status quo, and societal expectations and norms. Fortunately, there are some people, like me, who find simply embracing hegemony, the status quo, and societal expectations and norms to be problematic. What seems to be the goal of those who try to force people to be just like them is to allow themselves to remain safe and comfortable in their limited world of possibilities. The reason why they have limited possibilities is they have self-imposed a life of slavery on themselves. They allow themselves to fall prey to psychic slavery. As we all know, this is the most damaging form of slavery because it has the potential to last forever.

Unfortunately, many Black people allow themselves to be victimized by self-imposed psychic slavery. They are not willing to live a free life—a life without limits. While I am certainly not advocating that people should not be law-abiding citizens, I am arguing for people to do the things that please them most. You should not live a life that is based on what other people think that you should be and what they think you should be doing. You also should not live a life that is not real. I see so many unhappy people because they are living lives and doing things that they do not want to do. For example, I know many people who get married, have babies, maintain heterosexual relationships, try to act like thugs, pretend to be straight, but these things are not really what they want to be and/or do. They just do these things so that they will not be considered “different.” For many people, being “different” is not something that they can handle. It is almost like being dirty: When one gets dirty, there is always this feeling that you need to be cleansed. Living a socially cloned life and life of self-imposed psychic slavery has to be a miserable life. Life is too short—one should live life with much more freedom and with much more concern for what he or she can uniquely contribute to the world.

I am often criticized for virtually everything that I do—simply because I am a truly emancipated Black man. Efforts to criticize my freedom-saturated actions are aimed at trying to make me stop doing things that are outside of the norm, and people want me to stop making them have to constantly live with the reality that they are unwilling to live a life of Truth, instead of a life of falsehoods. Because I am such a compassionate person, I want my readers to know that I am not attacking those who allow themselves to be socially cloned and be victimized by a self-imposed psychic slavery. I simply have to tell them the Truth. As I often say, justice is what love looks like in public. As a person who fights for justice, I have to tell people that living a lie is a self-denial of experiencing and enjoying the fullness of the Earth.

You can always identify those people who live a life of self-imposed psychic slavery and who have been socially cloned: These are the people who are always pointing out the harm in everything that you do that goes against the status quo. What people really would like for people who resist social cloning and psychic slavery to do is just sit down and shut up. Please do not succumb to this pressure. I know that it can often be hard to resist and can be tremendously unpopular. The world, however, needs people who are willing to be “different” and needs people who are willing to take “unpopular” positions and actions. Just think about it: When you take unpopular positions and actions and are willing to be different, you will be in the company of the greatest man you can ever know: Jesus. Jesus took unpopular positions and actions and was willing to be different.

People know the difference between real and fake, so please do not think that you are fooling anybody. When you work so hard to put on false images, the world knows that these are false images, so stop investing great time in maintaining these images. The people who really gain the real respect of people are the people who are authentic. In order to be authentic, you must be guided by transparency in nearly all that you do and say. I really hope that people will begin to improve the world dramatically by offering us your authenticity and not your socially cloned selves. I long for a day when real people will rise up and make this world a truly better place to live in, a place where true and pervasive freedom can blossom.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison