To Be or Not to Be

November 6th, 2011

Dear English Gentleman,

I am a young energetic girl who enjoys having fun. I tend to be wild, loud, and outgoing but end up being considered “strange” by others at times. I want to become an elegant, refined young lady but I don’t want to surpress myself to the point of being stiff or change my personality completely. What should I do?

Wild ‘n Young

Dear Wild’n Young

Isn’t it wonderful, that we live in such modern times? In this day and age, individuality is celebrated, diversity is encouraged, and as people we enjoy more freedom to engage ourselves in whatever interests strike our fancy. Gone are the days where adversity had to be faced with a “stiff upper lip”, emotions supressed, and grief and joy had to be hidden and private. Even in Britain, with its long tradition of pre-Victorian stoicism, the public support and empathy for Princess Diana’s death in 1997 was an indicator that slowly, but surely, the world was becoming a more “connected” place, in some sense. Perhaps we have modern technology, the influence of foreign (especially American) media, and the ease and of global communication to thank for all of this.

What I’m trying to say, Wild n’ Young, is that gone are the days where one had to behave in rigidly pre-defined behavioural roles in order to conform to societal expectations of gender and social position. While it is commendable that you’d like to act like a refined and well-educated lady, in this day and age this no longer means that in order to do so you must sacrifice who you truly are inside.

You say that you enjoy having fun and being outgoing, but perhaps it makes you uncomfortable when other people find your behaviour unusual. What I would suggest to you would be to try to find a way to perhaps moderate the expression of your “wild” and “loud” behaviours to the appropriate situation. An outing at a nightclub, for instance, would hardly find loud talking or exhuberant dancing disturbing, but this behaviour might raise a few eyebrows at a quiet dinner party hosted by your fiance’s parents, for instance.

In short, Wild ‘n Young: never sacrifice who you truly are, but try to keep the expression of the more colorful or controversial aspects of your personality to the appropriate times and places. As for the other occasions, remember simply that politeness is nothing more than respect and consideration for the needs of others. If you are able to articulate this genuinely, no stiffness nor change in personality will be required.

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