What is it to conform?
Clearly if you’re behind the wheel of a car your best bet is to obey the rules of the road and travel in the same direction as those vehicles on your carriageway.
Conformity can mean safety. Intuitively we know when safety is key. Non-conformity on a dual carriageway is literally, potentially fatally, dodgy.
But are there any times when there are risks associated with conformity?
Readers of The Journal Writer’s Handbook pose the question “How can I be less conformist, more originally me?” They are perceiving that there is a deficit that is triggered by conformity, some kind of theft of their originality.
Journaling is a good opportunity to recognise our authentic self – but that doesn’t automatically result in ease around non-conformity. We might know what’s good for us, but actually living that out in reality, other than in the confines of our private notebook, is another matter.
What would people say? How would your friends react? What would your family think?
Conforming is very much about our perception of others’ comfort; it’s about towing the line, or writing our story within the lines. It’s about following rules, obligations, expectations that are designed to make life easier, more straightforward, where we can just swoosh off one assumption onto another, like bouncing from one smooth cushion of air to the next.
Conformity is comfortable. On the outside. For others. No special arrangements or attitudes need to be adopted. Everyone, it can be assumed, is just like us.
But where our Truth is at odds with conformity, what then? Do we have to live a secret agony, having to hide who we really are from the rest of the world?
What’s the price of being true to ourselves? And expressing that out in the world? What does it take to shake off the fear that non-conformity brings?
I don’t recommend trying to drive the wrong way along a carriageway, but perhaps one small act of defiance can help us grasp who we might really be under the conformity cloak.
Baby steps. What non-conformity will you permit yourself today? And what would be its impact?