The curse of conformity
Conformity …. the very word makes me shudder. It brings to mind images of hoards of identically dressed people in some sci-fi movie, none of them realising that they look just like everyone else.
I can often be found pontificating on the importance of being the Real You. Mostly because I’ve spent various periods of my life not being true to the real me and I know how depressing and frustrating that can feel.
I stumbled on a quote this week from American author Rita Mae Brown which pretty much sums it up:
“I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.”
Take a look around. You’ll see plenty of people who are so desperate to be liked by their peers that they are prepared to completely squash who they really are in order to fit in.
It can take a long time of not liking yourself, but you eventually realise that it doesn’t actually matter what anyone else thinks if it’s making you miserable.
I get it.
Being liked feels good. It’s like a drug. We want more. (Note that little burst of feelgood when someone likes your Facebook post or Instagram story, eh? ?)
The trouble is, when you’re liked for being someone you’re not that’s an exhausting charade to keep up. You are constantly worrying that your mask is in place… if you inadvertently drop the disguise… even for a second… you could be found out. And the consequences of that in this fickle world we live in…? Bye bye likers.
The mental and emotional pressure that puts you under is enormous.
BUT. What goes on in your head has the most influence over how you feel. Your own opinion of yourself carries so much more weight than the opinions of others.
Consider the famous person with legions of fans all over the world. They are liked, loved even, by millions. Yet, if they are trapped in a world where they can only be their public persona, a persona that they have grown to dislike immensely perhaps, and the real person underneath the glitz and glamour has no outlet… it all too often has tragic consequences.
There is a place for conformity, it just needs to be kept in its box.
You might need to conform for your job. You might need to conform for certain formal occasions. You might need to conform to keep some members of your family happy. You get the picture… an army made up of mavericks simply wouldn’t operate effectively!
It’s when you find yourself having to conform ALL THE TIME, when your Real You never gets the chance to shine, that the problems start.
Whatever it is about you that makes you You, your uniqueness, is an integral and fundamental part of who you are. If it isn’t acknowledged, and given some air-time, it feels as if a part of you is missing.
So if you have that frustrating feeling of incompleteness, or you’re not that keen on the person you’re being, ask yourself if your Real You has had an outing recently.
If she hasn’t, be brave and have the courage to let your guard down a bit. It doesn’t have to be a major public reveal, just a candid chat with a trusted friend will be enough to start with.
When you ditch the curse of conformity you can enjoy finding what’s missing.