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What Does It Mean To Uproot Conformity (And Should You Do It)?

What is conformity? 

Conformity is compliance to certain standards or rules. Britannica.com describes it as “the process where people change their own beliefs, attitudes, actions, and perceptions to more closely match those held by groups to which they belong, want to belong, or by groups whose approval they desire. Conformity has important social implications.”

That’s a lot to take in. Essentially, conformity is when we change who we are or how we act to more closely match another person or group of people and in the process trade parts of ourselves.

And how about ‘uprooting’? 

Uprooting signifies pulling out something which has planted itself and begun to grow. To uproot conformity is to learn how to see the areas in our lives where we have traded our individuality for complying with our culture’s framework and, by doing so, learning to remove the roots of it from our identity.

I started this blog to share my path of uncovering myself as I peeled away layers of society’s expectations. Throughout this journey, I have realized how much of who I thought I was was a mere cardboard cutout that I presented to the world while deep inside, the real me was trapped and slowly suffocating. Dramatic sounding, but true.

A couple years ago during that most infamous year of this 21st century, many things came to a head. Through profound changes and demanding experiences, I came to a point where I wasn’t acting like the person I thought I was-which left me very confused and frustrated. I began to ask myself, “Who am I really?” At that point all I knew was that I was not acting like the person I thought I was or wanted to be, but I had no idea why or what to do about it.

So What’s the Big Deal with Conformity?

Is conformity really worth the time & effort to root out? Why should you even care?

As social beings, humans have an innate tendency to conform to societal norms and expectations. From a young age, we are taught to fit in and follow the rules. While conformity can be beneficial in certain situations, such as maintaining social order, it can also lead to personal strife and hold us back from reaching our full potential. Here are several ways that conformity takes its toll:

1. Suppressing Your Authentic Self

Conforming to expectations means suppressing your authentic self and conforming to what others want or expect from you. This can lead to feeling anxiety, depression, and a lack of fulfillment in your life.

2. Limiting Your Creativity 

    Conformity can limit your creativity by forcing you into a box of what is considered “normal” or “acceptable.” It can prevent you from exploring new ideas and expressing yourself creatively.  Creativity can come in so many delicious varieties but by stripping away the parts of us that are unique, we are letting go of what makes life beautiful and brings it the perspectives and beauty that makes it worth savoring.

    3. Hindering Personal Growth

    When we conform to societal norms, we may find ourselves stuck in a comfort zone that prevents personal growth and development. Stepping outside of this zone requires taking risks and breaking away from things that bind us needlessly. We cannot discover who we are- much less share it with others- if we are so focused on maintaining the status quo.

    4. Creating Unnecessary Stress

    Trying to continually fit in with societal expectations creates unnecessary stress on individuals who pressure to always meet certain standards or expectations. When we suppress who we truly are, we add extra work and pressure onto ourselves instead of focusing on using the gifts we have been given.

    5. Impeding Innovation

    Conformity stifles innovation by keeping people within established boundaries instead of encouraging them to think outside the box. This is perhaps one of the biggest revelations I have come to in my study of conformity and individuality. If everyone conforms to the same ideas and ideals, how can society prosper? Who will step out with innovative creations and ideas that revolutionize our world? Who will dare to think differently and share it so that we can all grow?

    Uprooting Conformity

    Uprooting conformity in our lives doesn’t happen with the push of a button, but it is a beautiful journey. 

    When we decide to uproot conformity, we embark on a conscious, intentional act of freeing ourselves from the mold society says we should fit into. If that inspires you to begin following your own drum beat, then this is the place for you. Welcome.

    Breaking away from conformity isn’t easy but it’s vital for personal growth and fulfillment in life. Here are some tips for embracing individuality:

    1. Cultivate Self-Awareness

    Take time for introspection and identify your core values, beliefs, strengths, weaknesses, passions, etc- all the beautiful eccentricities that make you so special. Ways you can do that include taking personality tests to help you gain insight into your inner world. There are so many different varieties of tests which can aid you in your expedition towards self-awareness.

    2. Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People (and Not Like-minded People)

    Surround yourself with people who share similar interests as well as those who challenge you intellectually. It is important that you have people who will support you and your journey and understand the value of learning about yourself as well as those who will challenge you and help you learn why you believe what you believe.

    3. Take Risks

    Stepping outside of your comfort zone requires taking risks; start small by doing something new each day. Risks don’t have to be anything as grand as suddenly quitting your job or running off to backpack across Europe (though those have their place :-). Risks can be as simple as changing your hairstyle or types of clothes you wear. It can be choosing to make your coffee at home instead of picking it up from Starbucks everyday because that’s what everyone else does. It can mean sharing one thing that truly matters to you with someone else.

    For me, I started by dying my hair purple. At 41 years old. Why? Because I had always wanted to, but never had the nerve. I ended up not wanting to do it again- but I was so glad I tried it. 3 months later, I decided I was tired of having long hair so I actually went to the stylist (a big deal for me since I had trimmed my own hair for 20 years) and cut it all off. Like, so short nothing touched my neck! I wasn’t super keen on it at first, but as grew out a bit and I learned how to work with it, I began to love it! In fact, I’m planning on keeping it rather short do to new adventures on my horizon, but that’s a story for another post!

    4. Embrace Failure

    Failure is an inevitable part of life; embrace it as a learning opportunity rather than fearing it. One of the biggest lies we have believed is that failure is bad. To fail simply means you didn’t succeed that time. While it sounds like the opposite of success, it is a crucial component to a successful outcome. We seldom succeed at anything on our first try, which means Every.Single.One of us fails a huge part of each day. But failure isn’t bad! It is simply one more step on our life’s path!

    5. Practice Mindfulness

    Mindfulness helps cultivate awareness while reducing stress levels. It’s not just a cliché, but a purposeful way of connecting with where you are right now- being aware of the present moment. Deep breathing even for one minute can help center you and reset your mind. Meaningful music, uplifting sense, meditation, and beautiful scenery can also revive your spirit.

    Breaking away from conformity is essential for personal growth and fulfillment in life. We will only find true contentment when we take time to learn who we are and have the courage to share it with our world.  Ironically, the best way we can contribute to society is by not conforming to it, but instead, allowing our true self to shine on it. By embracing individuality and stepping out of our comfort zones we can unlock our full potential while living a more fulfilling life free from societal constraints.

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    One Comment

    1. This is a very clear explanation of the terms and gives the person the permission to explore, and be themselves without guilt.

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