A person with a brightly colored umbrella stands in front of an old building façade.
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Uprooting Conformity in Your Life Without Abandoning Your Roots

A person with a brightly colored umbrella stands in front of an old building façade.
Merging tradition with individuality may seem formidable, but it can lead to a beautiful result.
Photo by Márton Novák

Do you ever feel like you’re just not quite fitting in anywhere? That no matter what you do or where you go, you just can’t seem to shake the feeling that something is off? You’re not alone. So many people go through their lives feeling like they’re on the outside looking in, and it can be incredibly isolating. But there is hope. It is possible to live a life that feels authentic to you without having to give up your traditions. Here’s how…

Why do we feel the need to conform in the first place – is it because we’re afraid of being different, or because we want to fit in with others around us?

Conformity can be an incredibly difficult thing to navigate. There is a deep human desire to belong, one that can lead us into uncomfortable compromise when we find ourselves trying to fit in with others whose values and beliefs don’t entirely align with our own. Naturally this creates a degree of insecurity; it’s easier to forget our truth than stand out from the crowd and invite public judgment or ridicule. That being said, it’s not always wrong or negative to conform – sometimes following the accepted path is necessary for our growth and development, potentially allowing us the opportunity to break through conformity with increased knowledge and self-awareness. It all comes down to understanding why we feel the need to conform and making sure it is something we’re doing with thoughtfulness and intention, rather than out of blind habit or easy acceptance.

How can you start making small changes in your life that will help you break away from conformity and express your true self?

Creating change in your life can be daunting, but it is important to take those steps and make sure you are living a life that reflects who you are. The best way to start is by first becoming aware of the societal pressure impacting how you live day-to-day. Ask yourself questions like, “What expectations did I feel were imposed on me today? How could I have responded differently?” Taking the time to become conscious of socially accepted beliefs or behaviors and being open to questioning them can help you break away from conformity and create your own definition of success. From there, seize opportunities for small changes such as focusing on what brings you joy rather than following somebody else’s definition of happiness. Ultimately, making these minor shifts in your life can lead to larger and more meaningful changes, allowing you to find contentment in self-expression rather than trying to conform to any external pressures that may be present.

What are some traditions that you might want to keep in your life, even though they may be considered “conventional”?

In our teen years particularly, we are told to question the traditions of the past and look for something more progressive. And while that can definitely be beneficial in many cases, sometimes traditions are worth keeping around. After all, there’s something meaningful about attaching your life to values that have been sustained over generations. Whether it’s attending religious services or holding family reunions every summer, clinging onto the traditions of our ancestors allows us to maintain a sense of purpose, connection and belonging in our lives. By understanding their importance and preserving them as best we can, our conventional habits can play an integral role in helping to shape a better future as well.

How can you explain your non-conformist lifestyle choices to family and friends who may not understand them?

Understanding someone’s non-conformist lifestyle choices can be difficult for those who are more traditional or conservative in their views and have never had to consider different paths. When communicating with family and friends, it’s important to approach the topic from a compassionate and understanding perspective. Explain why you have made these choices for yourself – for example, if you’re on a different career path than what many might expect, talk about how this fulfills needs that you didn’t find in other avenues. If the conversation is heated, it’s heading down an unproductive path. Rather than arguing, let them know that you value and respect their opinion while still holding firm to your own beliefs. Informed by mutual respect, open communication can create more understanding between both parties.

What are the benefits of living a non-conformist lifestyle – for yourself and for society as a whole?

Living a life that strays from what is considered to be the norm can be difficult, but it is also incredibly valuable. By going against the status quo and truly expressing yourself, you can open your eyes to new possibilities and experiences. This can lead to increased self-knowledge, enhanced self-confidence as well as personal growth. A non-conformist lifestyle is also beneficial for society overall; by adding diversity of expression and thought, it broadens our perspectives and understanding of each other, allowing us to better connect. It helps us recognize the beauty in not all being the same but rather unique individuals with unique values. Those who push back against convention offer something different and vital to the collective conversation which can ultimately lead to positive change.

“We don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonize. The same is true with people.”

Steve Goodier

In conclusion, we all succumbed to the desire to conform at some point in our lives. This can either be because we feel scared of being different or because we want to fit in with the people around us. While there are numerous traditions and conventions that may often be difficult to break free from, there are still ways that you can make small adjustments in various aspects of your life – whether it’s fashion, lifestyle choices, habits or beliefs – so as to acquire a non-conformist outlook towards life. 

It is vital to remember that as important as it is for us to appreciate and respect traditions, it is also important for us to accept our own unique personality and express ourselves freely without feeling ashamed of who we are. Doing so can not only benefit ourselves but also the society around us. 

In the end, resisting conformity requires courage and a firm understanding of one’s self worth. Therefore, ask yourself: what areas have you been bending towards the influence others have put upon you? Today is the time to start making small changes in your life that will help you on a personal level while allowing society to broaden its views about what is acceptable and considered ‘normal’ today.

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