I will not conform


I am a non-conformist.

It has been that way since I was a child.

Some examples from kindergarten:

(1) I talked back to my teacher (says so on my report card)
(2) I argued over the need for nap time. I was not tired, I did not want to nap.
(3) I would not follow directions because I saw no point to them.

I constantly questioned why I had to follow prescribed patterns. You know the exercise, there will be a string of shapes: circle, square, triangle, and star which repeated. Then you would be told to colour it in a particular way: yellow star, green square, blue triangle, red star. Why? I want to colour it my way. I followed the pattern for the first four, now I want to explore my own pattern. Same with copying patterns of stars, circles, squares, and triangles (and why couldn’t I throw in rectangles and squiggly shapes?)

This is not to say I was a troublemaker. I was (and am) not. I simply don’t follow instructions and fall into line like a good citizen should.

A former boss of mine (the best boss I ever had) was an ex-Navy man. We got along because he left me alone and I excelled in my work. However, this did not stop him from offering me this bit of advice: “Rich, never join the military. You’ll be charged with insubordination before you know it.” Okay, I wasn’t planning a career in the military, anyway. Similar advice has been given to me a number of times by other military – always along the lines of, “Don’t join the military, you won’t fit in.”

I don’t feel the need to adapt to others and fit in. I don’t understand why people exert so much effort on trying to fit in. On the contrary, I expect (yes, expect!) people to be individuals who assert their right to be individual (opposed to their right to be like everyone else). I find it strange how hard people fight to be like everyone else (keeping up with the Jones’), and reject the notion of individuality.

In my mind, most cases of being ‘individual’ and ‘going my own way’ are really specialized instances of conformity (punk, Goth, tattoos, body piercing, etc) – which society despises anyway, because it does not conform to the general norm.

Part of my non-conformist outlook is simply shaped by the fact that I ask questions. Lot’s of questions. In fact, it is rare for me to be in a conversation without questioning presented or stated facts. Ha! I even will question my own statements, “But, on the other hand ….”

Sometimes, I think it is a wonder I have any friends at all, but, on the other hand, I accept people as they are. I do not try to mold them to conform to me. I accept their differences. I do not control them. On the other hand (I am beginning to look like Nataraja here), it can be successfully argued that I do try to get people to think more deeply, to examine themselves more deeply, to be more individual.

“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own.”The Prisoner, “Arrival”

“Cowards walk in crowds, the brave in single file.” – apparently an Ojibwa saying, but I am unable to find an authoritative reference to it. First read it more than 20 years ago. It has always stayed with me.

Comments

I applaud your non-conformity! I'd like to think of myself as a non-conformist, but I don't know if others view me that way (a loner, perhaps). You will be a great role model for your children as they get older. :)
Richard said…
I consider myself a loner as well. In my mind's eye, I see myself as a lone wolf (in my post rejoicing about feeling good a few weeks ago, the choice of a wolf image was deliberate, because it reflected a return to my old self).

Most people seem to have way more friends than I do, but on the other hand, I seem to have more close friends.

I don't deliberately choose to stand out, but I don't fall into line either. As long as others don't "line up", I don't stand out.

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