“Do not rebel against the mainstream only to conform to the underground.” ~ Tomas Kalnoky
The definition of “mainstream” is the thoughts, beliefs, and choices that are followed by the majority.
Though these days, it could be described as something to be avoided, since the masses are usually blind (and the M in masses is, at times, silent). Oops!
However, when we start feeling the need to stand out just for the sake of being weird or different, it becomes just as alarming as doing something to fit in. I propose that we start promoting and doing what feels right to us, whether it’s popular or not.
I have always been someone who stood out in one way or another. I have never done this on purpose though. I was exposed to both European and Eastern cultures at a very young age, and this spiced up my personality. This made me dress, eat, think, and even behave differently. It wasn’t always smooth or pretty, but it was real, because I never wanted to be someone or something I wasn’t. Some people disliked me, but others loved me—and thus, I learned early on to be “bulletproof” to both compliments and criticism.
Lately though, I’ve noticed a craze that is pissing me off. I’m not sure if it’s a cry to stand out or just a phase, but so many people seem to be avoiding—like the plague—anything that is mainstream.
But what if the right thing and the most beautiful thing is simply the ordinary thing? For instance, I told someone recently that I’d decided to follow a clean diet, one that banned all kinds of processed food and focused on organic veggies and fruits. The first reaction I got was, “This must be a fad diet, because it is becoming more and more trendy, and kids are doing it nowadays.”
First, I am in my 30s, so I am neither a kid, nor do I care about following a trend. But I’ve been on this diet for 21 days and have never felt healthier or more energetic, so whether it’s mainstream or not, I’m going to follow it.
There are people who refuse to watch or read something because “everyone else is doing it.” And while some of the most popular books, movies, and TV shows are lame or silly, others are incredible and are missed out on by some simply because a lot of people like them.
Here are five tips I’ve found that help me enjoy life without missing out on something great just because it’s mainstream:
1. Don’t judge a book by its cover. This might be cliche, but it is also true. Open the book, read a few pages, and if you like it, carry on. This doesn’t just apply to books though; what I mean is that we need to explore something first before accepting or rejecting it. Get to know people first before deciding whether they can be in your life or not.
2. Don’t do anything just to get attention or stand out. Stay real, and if your real means mainstream, so be it. As long as you’re doing what’s right for you and not hurting anyone, it doesn’t matter.
3. Don’t be ashamed to like what you like and admit it publicly—even if it’s mainstream. I like popular shows like “Narcos,” “Game of Thrones,” and “The Walking Dead,” and if admitting this makes me look shallow or uncool, so be it. I like watching TV. Some people don’t, which is also fine, but we need to keep it real.
4. Don’t reject popular, contemporary work and just stick to the classics or philosophy in an attempt to seem sophisticated. Don’t get me wrong. I love Edgar Allan Poe and my all-time favorite author is Jane Austen, but I’ve learned the best wisdom from Mitch Albom’s books, and Robin Sharma’s words changed my life. We do not have to stick to folks like Nietzsche to be considered refined and educated.
5. Don’t avoid tourist-y areas just because everyone else goes there. Yes, sometimes the best places to go when traveling are the ones most people don’t visit, but the popular areas have become that way because there is something fascinating about them. I didn’t like Paris much when I visited, but I fell in love with Barcelona—and both places are full of tourists. You don’t know which places you’ll enjoy unless you go and visit them.
The only time we should avoid the mainstream is if what’s popular is also morally wrong. But there is no reason to judge or avoid something simply to stand out.
Remember, love is the most mainstream thing on the planet—it’s what makes the world go round. So be kind to one another.
(And just in case you couldn’t tell from that closing, I love Ellen, and I don’t care how mainstream she is!)
Author: Rita Wehbe
Image: Time Magazine
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis