Ok, hands up all of you who've ever received this kind of encouragement from parents or teachers. I get the feeling somehow that this might be more socially divisive than we realise. Meaning it's dependent on the kind of society we grow up and live in.
From what I see of young people around me, I'd say practically none have ever been actively fed on an idea like this. In fact, I'll stick my neck out to claim that a clean 100% Mizo parents swear by the go with the flow school of parenting. Case in point - many years ago, our Sunday School dept teachers had made plans to spend a day out together on a picnic. But on the morning of D day, someone in the church community died and some of us hastily met to decide whether to cancel or go ahead with our plans. I hadn't been terribly enthusiastic about the outing anyway and it seemed quite wrong to go goofing off when there was a funeral of a fellow church member to attend. But out of around 25 people, only three or four opted to cancel, and the rest all went off picnicking. One said later that he'd gone despite qualms about it because his parents had always drummed into him the line that in crunch situations, he should always go with the majority. The soft, safe option that many parents take pains to teach their children.
It's a different story when you watch children in more affluent societies. Like with the American Idol no-hopers. They bellow horribly like landlocked water buffalos deprived of H2O on a hot day but swear that their parents, family et al have always told them they're wonderful, super talented and unique. And they believe the hype so completely, they can't take the truth that they can't sing to save even one of a cat's nine lives.
Parents in affluent societies where career choices are as numerous as the sand tell their children they can be anything they want. Try out even the quirkiest job they can think of. After all, there's easy money everywhere. In India though, parents expect their kids to be doctors or engineers. That's where the moolah is, alongwith public respect and recognition. In Mizoram, parents want their kids to hold government jobs, play active roles in the church and stay out of trouble. Trouble being everything from crime and jail to holding opinions that are too radical and unpopular, sticking out your head too much and rocking the boat. With the fairer sex especially, you're expected to hold your head down and never let on you have a higher IQ than all your bumpkin beaus put together. Shame, girl, do you want to frighten off all prospective husbands and remain a lonely spinster forever?!
Of course, times change. As social communities gradually move up the scale in terms of economic prosperity, public opinions also slowly evolve. But a paradigm shift is an excruciatingly s-l-o-w process. Which is why I don't think we'll see Mizo parents and teachers encouraging individuality in their young ones just yet. Instead all we can expect to see are more run of the mill products who do everything that everyone else does, never rock the safe boat, always live respectably within a marginalised circle and never ever venture to even flutter their wings outside the box. Like yours truly here. Sigh.