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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thoughts on Conformity

            The desire to fit in with peers that seems to be common to all of humanity isn’t particularly strong with me. Sure, I wanted to be like everyone else very badly when I was in elementary school. Even in middle school I found myself lamenting how, no matter what I did, I seemed to stand out. By now, I’ve come to terms with my uniqueness. I’m finally at peace with the fact that I’m in a perpetual state of going against the grain. Any doubts I had about my contrarian existence were obliterated when I read, Letters to a Young Contrarian, by Christopher Hitchens (it’s a phenomenal book, even if you’re a conformist. Highly recommend). I stand as a personal testament that life outside the mainstream isn’t quite as terrible as most people seem to think. Life inside the stream, however seems to be rather unpleasant.

Perhaps it’s only my biased perspective, but being like everyone else seems to limit freedom in a rather profound way. It dictates the clothes you can wear, the music you can listen to, the things you have to prioritize, and the things you can do for fun. It limits you to being friends with almost exclusively people who also reside in the bounds of social acceptability, lest you be perceived as associating with the other. How incredibly boring.

That’s not to say that I’m not friends with anyone who is at least somewhat normal. In fact, I have several friends who conform to societal norms very strictly. They tend to find me rather amusing, perhaps because I represent a deviation from the norms that they have spent so much valuable time trying to conform to. I have to say, the fact that my individuality is amusing to so many gives me a great sense of personal pride.

Standing out isn’t all happiness and rainbows. Many of my peers don’t find the things I do amusing at all. They find them strange, uncomfortable, and sometimes rather distasteful. I’ve often found myself alienated and isolated because of that sentiment, which can be rather bothersome. I understand why people might want to avoid such circumstances. Though, are people who are uncomfortable with anyone different from them really people you want to associate with anyway? If anything, my bizarre behavior serves as a filter to stop boring people from trying to socialize with me. For that alone, the benefits vastly outweigh the negative consequences.

The desire to model truly significant portions of your life after your peers is perhaps the most overrated of all innate human aspirations. Those of us who seem to have been born without it are, in my opinion, much better off. I’d much rather be different and interesting than a conformist and boring.



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