Op 1: To Conform, or not to Conform

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?

This entry was posted in opinion and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Op 1: To Conform, or not to Conform

  1. I like your observations of the dating rituals.

  2. I agree that in my younger dating years I followed the rituals, but now I am older and hopefully wiser, I really don’t care about such rules anymore. I am more concerned about being true to myself.

    • I also think it is better to be yourself. However, I have noticed that most advice columns recommend people to be a “reformed” version of themselves. At the same time there are movies where the underdog gets the woman (or man). I find it ironic that the media is sending conflicting messages about conformity.

  3. 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).

    This cracked me up. It’s true. The kids think they’re being different, but so are all the other kids who shop there.

  4. jamieahughes says:

    You make some valid points in this. There are rules, and if you want to participate in popular society, they do need (for the most part) to be observed. However, the older I get, the more I find Emily Dickinson’s words to be true. She claims, “The soul selects her own society, / Then shuts the door.”

    After all, the people who love you, I mean genuinely love you, are often drawn to you by the unique things, the quirky habits, the style that is yours alone. That’s the stuff of lasting relationships. Getting used to them builds your character and theirs. So, yes, if you want to play the world’s reindeer games, there are rules. However, I grew tired of that fairly early in life and started making up my own. :) Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    • Thanks for reading! I guess I believe that although it is possible to achieve one’s goals by ignoring society’s rules, and although those achievements would be much more satisfying, it is an easier and shorter road if one chooses to conform. I think it’s great when people choose to make their own rules in life; however, most people are afraid to take the “the road less traveled by”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.