Not many people I know would want to call themselves conformists. Yet even the self-proclaimed non-conformists I know conform in certain ways.
How do you pick those ways? Why is one person who doesn’t want to date or get caught up on interpersonal drama still decide to get a 9-to-5 job? Why does another person who will eat only food she has killed or grown herself still celebrate Mother’s Day and all the other Hallmark card holidays?
I’ve been called odd, weird, nonconformist, interesting, and different. Most people who know me think I’m not like other people they’ve met. But in many ways I’m not really that different at all. I attend social functions. I pay my taxes. I’m in a heterosexual marital relationship. I watch popular TV shows.
I do find it fascinating to see how people pick and choose what they want to be “individual” about. Everyone conforms in some ways and decides to be “different” in other ways. How do you make up your mind about what falls where?
I think part of it has to do with how much you can get away with. I wore flip-flops through four New England winters (all year round, actually, but people didn’t think it was odd when I wore flip-flops during the summer), and people thought that a little odd. I got asked “Aren’t your feet cold?” more times than I can count. Ultimately—atypical though my behavior was—it didn’t hurt anyone. And I still wore proper shoes for formal occasions.
If, however, I’d decided to be different by yelling back “Fuck you!” to anyone who said a friendly “Hello,” well… that may not have gone over quite so nicely. Instead of weirdo, people would have called me asshole. For some people who are misanthropes, that’s okay, though. They want to be different in that way. They don’t want to be different in ways that are just odd and personally idiosyncratic. They want to be oddly offensive. They want to jar people, have a definite lasting effect on others and not necessarily in a positive way.
And sometimes the dice just fall where they do. A lot of the time, I bet people others label as “different” or “marching to the beat of their own drums” really are just being themselves, and that doesn’t jive with how they were brought up to be. In fact, that’s pretty much why I am as “normal” as I am. I didn’t really go looking for ways to be weird. I just followed my whims for the most part and conformed in ways that were convenient to conform to.
You don’t have to follow me. You don’t have to follow anybody. You’ve got to learn to think for yourselves. Otherwise…