I prefer being alone than with a large group of people.
I hate clothes shopping.
The smell of tuna makes me feel ill.
These are just three things about me that make me weird- there are many more, but I won’t bore you.
For many years, I have conformed and tried to “fit in” with certain groups of people while at the same time have been preaching to my children the importance of celebrating diversity and individuality.
We want our children to leave their unique footprints in the world rather than following the crowd and conforming to certain expectations, but we also want our children to be seen as normal and not “weird”- we want them to have healthy friendships and not endure bullying from others for being a little bit different.
How many of us practice what we preach? How often have you changed your behaviour or allowed others to dictate how you live in order to “fit in” and feel accepted?
When I was younger, I remember going out with a group of friends who were quite “girly” and loved to dress up and wear make up so I did the same- dressed myself up in clothes I would normally never wear just to be able to fit in. We spent the afternoon shopping and trying on different outfits. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and feeling physically ill because I was acting like a complete fraud- I did not feel comfortable or happy, and was bored! I wanted to go home and put on some comfy clothes and listen to music in my bedroom, alone.
The sad fact is, this sort of behaviour is not just limited to teenage girls, but also adults of all ages.
Conformity happens in the workplace, in local communities, and in the public eye.
The cost of conformity is not only losing your sense of identity, but losing time. Some people spend years living a life that is expected of them, and then suddenly wake up to realise that they have wasted their lives.
Conformity can also lead to busyness and living a hectic lifestyle. Here are 3 ways that hiding your “weirdness” and conforming could be making you busy:
1. You have expectations to fulfil: Maybe extra meetings you need to attend at work, activities you need to undertake (a weekly appointment at the beauty salon?) or an obligation you need to fulfil (baking for the school cake stall) in order to meet the expectations of others.
2. You have standards you need to live by: The most coveted home in the neighbourhood, the coolest car, the glitziest parties or the full social calendar. Living by such standards takes time and money.
3. You are busy hiding who you really are: For some people, it takes a lot of time and effort to hide who they really are from the rest of the world. Time that could be spent living a more honest and fulfilling life if only there wasn’t a need or desire to conform.
By identifying what you are currently doing in your life due to conformity, you can make the decision to change your behaviour and not only be more true to yourself, but also gain more time. You don’t have to start breaking the law or dyeing your hair pink, but making small, subtle changes can create a positive ripple effect. It could be learning to say no, or deciding that something does not “feel” right to you, therefore it isn’t worth pursuing. Or perhaps all you need is to change your perception of something about yourself- see a weakness as an actual strength!
Judy Garland once said “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”
Let’s all leave an individual footprint behind!
If you are feeling game enough, I’d love for you to share 3 things that make you “weird” or something you have always wanted to do but have been too afraid because it isn’t the “norm” for someone like you!
If you have the time…
I have written three guest posts in the past fortnight that I would love for you to read:
Sharon from Rediscovered Families(presence and awareness for strong family connection) was kind enough to invite me to share a story as part of the “Choosing To Connect” series, No Substitute For Time. Thanks Sharon!