Plenty of people like to play with puppets, in fact, you could say most people love puppets. But on the other hand, no one really loves you if you are a living puppet. No one wears a tag like in the picture above saying, "I'm a puppet," still, when people can push you around, you might as well wear the same tag too.
Do we have to "fit in" in society -- and is that such a bad idea? I'm not talking here about accepting common sense social norms or cooperating with healthy customs. For example: Personally, I don't like wearing shoes, ever. But I realize there are times in our society where it's necessary to wear shoes to not offend people unnecessarily. What I'm talking about instead of regular cultural obligations, is the dysfunctional habit of letting people have unhealthy amounts of influence over you.
What makes this all so hard? Our number one need in life is to be accepted. And, just like bullying, some people like to take advantage of what they perceive as weaker people. That's why we cave to peer-pressure and do things we don't really want to do. That's why we smile and pretend to agree with others when we really disagree. That's why so many people are unhappy in their pursuit of happiness. It's not only draining to seek acceptance when it's out of reach, it's an empty lie that you have to have everyone's acceptance all the time.
How do I know if I'm a puppet? Whenever you give people too much control over your life just to gain their love, acceptance, or approval, then you are their puppet. When it comes to solidifying relationships, seeking employment, or trying to make an impression, if you feel you have to relinquish your actual personality, your real needs, and your true opinions, then you have forfeited too much.
How do I regain control of myself? Realize first of all, if I have to completely give up myself to have a relationship with another, it's not a relationship. Instead of calling that a relationship, it's called domination or manipulation. Secondly, one of the hardest skills people acquire in life is learning to be comfortable being themselves; being comfortable with yourself also includes accepting the fact not everyone will like you. When you are someone's puppet, they will never respect you or truly love you.
To achieve true approval from others requires being true to yourself, being yourself truly. If people don't like the real you, they won't really like you if you fold like a puppet to fit their whims... You have more self-worth than that, than letting other people determine who you should be; but it might be hard to see that right now if you are filled up and animated by other people...
You will always find people to fit in with, people who have the same dreams and goals you have if you look long enough. You can find true companionship and legitimate friendships when you stand up for yourself, and standing up for yourself is the one thing a puppet can't do.