Conformity starts as early as a child can walk and often, never ends through adulthood. When the majority of people are doing something, most people feel pressure to do the same. The fear of being an outlier is scary. Thus, fear drives our conformity.
Conformity occurs every day in school, as school is a place of self revelation. In school, children are desperately trying to find their way, which may lead them to feel like they need to conform to “fit in.” We all know the feeling. For example, you do not want to be the one sitting alone at lunch, so you go and hangout with the jocks or the theatre kids and conform to their social norms. Conformity also extends to the classroom. A teacher will ask for students to raise their hands and students will often look around to make sure that others raise their hand before they do the same. They are conforming to what the rest of the class is doing because they are afraid of being the outlier, the one kid that does not agree with the rest of the class. Unfortunately, this does not change as we get older. In order to survive in this life, we are taught to go to school, graduate college, get a job, get married, have kids, etc. This is the path that is taught to us from a very young age –a path that determines the rest of our lives. As kids, we are nervous to let your parents down. As adults, we are nervous to let society down. This fear to stay within the boundaries of society can haunt people and prevent them branching out to carve their own path. Often, people will look back and wish they did life a little differently, that they took the extra risk.
I have come to realize the danger of conformity since high school. I love sports and I love being able to compete at a high level. That being said, my personality has never been one that matches the stereotypical athlete. I like to write, I like to think, and I like different styles of music than many of my athlete friends. The amazing thing is, if you are confident in yourself and are open about your interests, more people will be open with you as well. In the past, when a friend would come into my car, I would just put on the radio because I did not think the friend would like my music. Now, I will just leave my playlist on and test his or her reaction. Many people have since opened up to me and expressed how they too listen to a unique style of music. This has taught me to be more confident about myself and the unique things that I love. I don’t need to conform to society’s stereotypical standards.
Now, I wonder, is this music that I love really that uncommon? Or, are people just conforming to behaviors (or music styles) that they think are common? Conformity crushes creativity. My dad always says, “If everyone in this world was the same, life would be boring.” This could not be more true. As I have gotten older, I’ve learned one main thing: to be yourself. When you are in high school, all you care about is what other people think. Well, guess what? When you leave high school and you leave that bubble, no one really cares what you are doing or who you are besides you and those closest to you. The people closest to you love you for who you are, so do what makes you happy and don’t look back. People may question my decision to make this post. But, it’s not their life and I am not going to conform to someone else’s belief on how life should be.
You have the power to shape your own life. Don’t let conformity crush your style.
As Steve Jobs once said: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”