On Conformity: (Not) Fitting In
A Lot Like Me…
Today, I’m taking issue with something called conformity. Conformity is defined as the compliance with conventions, rules or laws, according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary.
To conform is to behave according to social convention, and a conformist is a person who conforms.
My whole life, I have been anything but a conformist. True, I was raised properly, and not neglected and ignored like many kids are, and therefore I didn’t resort to drugs to deal with things or as a cry for attention.
I was disliked for the most part by many people in school, because I didn’t "fit in".
Often this phenomenon is just dismissed as paranoia on the part of the person experiencing it, but I remember once when a friend of mine left the school I was attending. When I phoned him to talk about it, he replied that he felt as though he didn’t fit in at that school.
On the other side, one of the supposedly "cool" kids asked me one day, “Where is Johnny lately?”
I foolishly replied, “He left school because he felt as though he didn’t fit in.”
“Too right,” he said.
I knew that I should have bitten my tongue and not given away that information as it was kind of private, but when someone confronts you about something and you’re not prepared for it, it happens. I mean, why the hell would this kid care about my friend? He had never shown so much as an inkling of interest in him before. They never even talked.
I experienced this same sort of thing when I was at school. A lot of people wouldn’t talk to me, or even acknowledge that I was there. If I happened to speak to them for whatever reason, I was just ignored. And if someone did reply, it was usually less than kind.
I couldn’t really get my head around it. They were rude, arrogant and insensitive, and yet I was the one who was in the wrong. I was the one who wasn’t accepted because I was the opposite of those qualities.
"I wouldn’t say that I’m arrogant. I know that it’s just not worth the effort."
When I was in my teens, I started reading a few local magazines that dealt with issues that touched on these matters. Whether it was someone writing a letter in, talking about them or perhaps a columnist was giving out advice.
The advice was "to be yourself or nobody else will want to".
In the definitions at the beginning of the article, the word convention is thrown around a lot. The synonym for the noun conformity is convention. Convention means, ‘a way in which something is usually done.”
You know that saying: “That’s just the way it is.”
I’ve always hated it when people say that, because I view it as a total defeatist attitude. I’m anything but an optimist, but I hate it when people don’t have a backbone and they don’t stand up for what they feel is right or even say what’s really on their minds. And they're too afraid of being alone; without friends, to do things differently.
Right since those days when I read those magazines, I’ve always made sure to make my voice heard, and to show people when I didn’t agree with something they said or did. I also happen to write a lot about things on my mind as well.
Now I revel in my rebelliousness. I like my differences, and I exhibit my talents. I throw up a big middle finger to anyone and everyone who doesn’t like me or the things I do. Now I’m probably viewed as the one who is arrogant. I can tell you though, I’ve never felt so free.
I’ve always admired people who did things their own way, and they didn’t care what others thought, whether it was cool or not; whether it was socially acceptable.
Image courtesy http://thegoldguys.blogspot.com/
I’ve always liked the actor John Cleese, not just because he was funny, but because according to close friends, "he never wanted to be liked, and it gave him a fascinatingly arrogant freedom". He even famously declined a peerage. I like the sound of that, because I feel the same way. If I had to examine myself, I wouldn’t say that I’m arrogant, and I wouldn’t say that John is either. He, like I, probably knows that it’s just not worth the effort.
Calling someone arrogant is almost the same as the old race card. Whenever someone does something and it just so happens to offend someone of a different culture, who just so happens to take it completely out of context, it’s called racist.
When you get to know someone better, you may find out why they are the way they are. There may be a reason deep inside perhaps, why they do things differently, or why they don’t go certain places or hang out with certain people. People are always so quick to judge, and of course, they don’t like anything or anyone that’s different. What I think is such a shame though, is that it’s our right to be whoever we want to be, and do whatever we want to do, within reason. I’m not saying it’s okay to gear up and wreak havoc upon the whole city and kill people, but we can take control over what we are and what we do, like hobbies or work that we do.
Do you think that if God, or whoever or whatever made us, wanted us to all be the same, that he or she would give us all different abilities, talents, physical appearances and the gift of free thought? We're not the same, so why do we try so hard to be?
It’s even a law that we shall all have the right of free speech - not that we all have to say and do the same thing.
I’ve read many an article or blog about "fitting in" and being accepted socially, but you know, at the end of the day, I am who I am, and I like it; I’ll never change. People never liked me no matter what I did, so screw 'em. I might as well do as I please.
"You can't please everyone so you gotta please yourself."— Ricky Nelson
Do you fit in?
© 2009 Anti-Valentine