Growing up, my mother would always tell me that I was an “out-of-the-box” thinker. I would dream big, and always come to her with some very grand, and many times what she believed to be very unrealistic ideas, as my ideas often did not match the surrounding circumstances she was groomed to believe were the “predetermined” outcomes of our family’s legacy.
For example, I would say things like, “One day, I will write a book, I will have a nice family, I will go to college, and I will break the cycles in this family.” My mother would listen, but many times her limited view would cloud her ability to truly believe that what I was saying was a real possibility.
In my mind, it was always clear as day. Granted, I knew that there were huge obstacles and countless things and situations that were much bigger than what I was able to handle and change at that time (I was a child, y’all); however, I always believed and hoped for more; and was ultimately willing to do the work to get it.
In my childhood neighborhood, there was quite a bit of “groupthink” going on, as we were never truly taught how to critically think for ourselves. However, I was that “square peg in a round hole.” Granted, I was a firm believer of teamwork, as I had my crew that I “rocked with,” and we certainly knew how to collectively make things happen in our community, even it was simply throwing the BEST/most attended neighborhood parties (remember guys…I was a kid).
All of that to say, I have always struggled with the overall concept of “groupthink.” And let’s be clear: Teamwork and Groupthink are not the same. We are uniquely different and highly intellectual beings, with God-given individual skill-sets to be used collectively for the overall greater good. We were created by God to be critical thinkers. While teamwork is vital in just about everything that we do in life—it is crucial not to confuse it with groupthink.
It’s ok to disagree and think critically for yourself. Sometimes your opinion and worldview won’t get the popular vote. And guess what, that’s quite alright. However, the point to be made here is to never allow the societal pressures and popular and/or dominating opinions dictate your worldview, thought patterns, and what you know in your heart to be your personal truth.
You can disagree and still love people. You can be your authentic self, without hiding or conforming to what seems to be the “popular” thing to do. Your decisions and final resolve should never be manipulated by status, popularity, money, or fear of rejection.
It has always amazed me how hypocritical our world is. For example: we have freedom of speech, choice, and world-views, right? Or do we really? Or is that freedom frowned upon when someone deems that our individual view isn’t fitting within what’s popular and accepted in mainstream society.
To that end, here’s something to note:
Teamwork: ideas and conclusions that have critically been thought through, resulting in a collective goal to achieve a desired, optimal end (individually and collectively). Groupthink: is psychological phenomena whereby pressure within a group to agree results in failure to think critically about an issue, situation or decision—many times resulting in unwise, less than satisfactory results.
Moral of the story: You Have a Mind. Use It. You may not be popular, but you are FREE to BeYou!
Canena Adams, LLBSW, MA, SRAS
Wife | Mother | Writer | Author | Public Speaker | Social Worker | Business Owner | Nonprofit Founder & Director | Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist | Healthy Family & Relationship Advocate | Adjunct College Prof.