Conform. Comply. Consent. Concur
What do these words have in common? You guessed right. The “C”. Another similarity being their element of unanimity. Agreeing and yielding to something, probably with some sort of reluctance, but still adapting and acting in accordance to the expectations at hand anyway. Enough with the English lesson.
Battling with conformity is a war that I believe, I am well acquainted with. But it hit me recently when I took myself on date to the school “forest” (the trees are countable, but it’s amazing), how serious conformity can be, and the effects that come with it. For instance, I was comparing my former school to the one I am in now. My old school was driven under religious principles. Almost all of us (say, 96%) came from a similar ethnic background, we thought alike, we belonged to each other and we pretty much shared a similar belief system. There was no need to conform, or to strive to fit in. We all had a sense of place and purpose. We were young. Or should I say, “younger”.
However, moving to a new school gave me an entirely different outlook towards life. Everything here is just far much more diverse; from the ethnic groups, to the arts, religion, dress. Everything. So I definitely got this whole culture shock at first, and then I eventually got used to it. In the process though, there were times where I felt this very strong desire to fit in, such that it wouldn’t be so easy to distinguish me from the rest of my schoolmates. Because, perhaps I was afraid to be different. I was afraid to stand out. (I experienced something close to the melting pot – History students).
Consider also the image that has been long portrayed in the media channels to be the definition of beauty. The idea has been drilled immensely into the minds of most people, such that we forget that beauty is, in fact, subjective. That it lies in the eye of the beholder. Conformity to such has lead to undertaking life threatening practices, and even worse, converting who you are as a person, into what the media dictates you to have been. I must say, I am really grateful for the ongoing incentives to help people realise their self-worth and appreciate themselves as they are.
Eventually though, I came to realize that individuality is key. Wherever you are, embrace who you are. After all, “There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you” – if that is what you are trying to avoid. In fact, the struggle to conform made it dawn to me that we all must learn to agree to disagree. That’s just how life is. Sometimes when not everyone around you yields to the same calling, it actually could be the spark needed to ignite growth and the birth of new ideas.
And just a “by the way” to any parent or soon-to-be parent reading his, you will do your children a HUGE favor by sending them to an environment which they are not really comfortable with, or one that they claim to be intimidating and/or uninviting. Simply put, a different environment. Although it may be seen as an insane idea, in the long run, the decision will influence them (the kids) to stretch, be more open minded, creative and innovative global citizens. (Dad, mum, thanks a bunch!)
Conforming can actually have its degrading influence once we give in to it. As a growing artist, I really enjoy scrolling down my Pinterest feed as often as I can. Feeding my brain with numerous ideas of various art media and techniques, feeding my zeal and encountering some slight hints of “jealousy” (smh)…and comparison. Unfortunately. Then one day, I thought of the artist legends, who in their time had no influence of social media to exert their creativity. To conform to. Which probably is the reason why their art is very authentic and still lives on today. So, they did not conform to the supposed expectations around them, and they still turned out awesome! A challenge it is, for us to stop relying on what people have already done as our basis of creativity and that we too can be the authors of a novelty. And even in this day and age, we can become victors of not conforming. You are a brilliant mind.
Embrace you. Let go of the C’s.
One last thing. Please do me a favor and observe the featured image. I want to to tell me what you see, and write it down on the comments below. Everything you see! You can tilt your screen to whichever position you think is best for you. I call it the “Serendipitous Codger“.