Chapter 2, Section 16 of the Constitution of South Africa - freedom of expression. Freedom to be.
My favourite thing about this generation is that we take advantage of chapter 2, section 16, and we do it without shame. Our inability and unwillingness to conform and fit a stereotype truly makes me proud that I am a part of a generation filled with dreamers and dream chasers. My generation has made it their responsibility to shake the status quo and get rid of the limitations that have been put on people for centuries.
Labels are the one thing that have limited us. The first step in truly taking advantage of our constitutional right to freedom expression is to strip labels of their power over us. For many years, people have felt the need to fit into them. What one person decided was normal suddenly sparked worry in society and constant fear of stepping out of these labels, be it sexual orientation, beauty, fashion, it was a fear of getting shunned and being viewed as different. Today, I sit here, part of a society that has taken “different” and made it a superpower.
We’ve taken that inability and unwillingness to conform and turned it into a way of living. Slowly, we’re seeing more of us taking advantage of expression. My favourite thing in the world is seeing people being unapologetically themselves. To me, it means that even though a large part of our society still shoves these labels and ideas of beauty, sexuality and expression, they do it because it’s what makes them happy. It’s who they are.
The definition of “different” changes to make people comfortable. A few years ago, nobody thought wide leg pants or colour blocking was fashionable, but our revolutionists decided that they could care less about what was “okay” or “acceptable” and wore them regardless, and I must say, they looked good doing it.
It’s okay to not like what is mainstream or what is accepted. It’s okay to milk your right to freedom of expression. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. You don’t owe it to anyone to fit into a box. You don’t owe it to anyone to be their definition of acceptable. You owe it to yourself to be who you want to be.
Last year, I called it the individuality epidemic. The independence from the norm and standard. You are allowed to upgrade and change yourself as much as you want. You are allowed to rebrand, to rethink and to reimagine any aspect of your life and fearlessly live it. I’m eternally grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of such rebellion and part of a group of people that encourage distinction. Where you don’t have to ask for permission to be yourself, but instead, it’s encouraged.
To you reading this, to you who has been limiting themselves because they are afraid of standing out, I encourage you to be the red in a crowd in blue. You owe it to yourself to live passionately and as freely as you wish. We are the 180 degree turn that generations have tried to be but couldn’t. Don’t shrink yourself to make everyone else comfortable. The world has room for you and all that you are. Soar. Fly. Just don’t ever dim your light.
Take this as a sign. As the alarm clock telling you that the time of limitation is over. Take this as your freedom to be.