Disclaimer: Certain parts of this article have been exaggerated for humor purposes.
Remember when your second grade teacher told you to always be yourself? Remember following her advice? If you remember the latter, then you probably also remember being ridiculed before you even entered high school. Although teachers, parents, and after school specials tell you that if you show your true self and always do what is in you heart you will be happy and successful, in reality it is the opposite that happens. From the clothes you wear to the way you act in public, there are distinct rules you have to follow.
The type of clothes you choose to wear seems pretty harmless. However, even then society mandates what type of clothes are appropriate. The only time its okay to wear non main stream clothes, is when there are at least 10 million people who also follow that trend (e.g. Hot Topic). Although celebrities like Lady Gaga might make it seem glamorous to have a unique style, movies about high school show you what happens when you stray from the fashion norm. Not to mention unless your can make your own clothes, it is very difficult to find something that is not trendy. Have you ever tried to shop for bell bottoms after they went out of style?
Having to wear a certain type of clothing is a small sacrifice compared to having to act a certain way. Once you enter the dating world, you also have to follow a strict set of rules. Well you don’t have to follow them if you never want to go on a 2nd date. A very important rule in dating is how long you wait to call (or text) a person after the first date. Some people might tell you that it doesn’t matter how long they wait until they are contacted again, and these are they same people who refuse to go on the second date if they are contacted too soon after the first encounter (after all that means the potential partner is probably a stalker). There is also a set of rules on how you need to act on a date. Sure you might hear the occasional “I went out with this really unique person last night, and it was like a breath of fresh air,” but its the same type fresh air that’s in Antarctica. It might be a great place to visit once, maybe twice, but you certainty don’t want to vacation there every year.
Once you get married, have kids, and get a career, you still have to conform. In fact, it is more important to conform once you are a settled adult. When you march to the beat of you own drummer as a youth, you are only considered weird; If you don’t follow the norm as an adult, you are considered flawed. You have to follow specific rules on how you talk to your spouse, how you raise you kids, and how you behave at work. Amazon offers hundreds of books that give you detailed instruction on how to behave in your daily life. Sure you can choose to act anyway you want, but then you have to deal with being ridiculed, pitied, or shunned by society.
So, although the advice your teacher gave you in second grade came from a sincere place, it wasn’t realistic. Although there are people who by acting unique set their own trends, most end up being ostracized. Have you ever been forced to conform? Have you ever chosen not to conform, and been happy with that decision?