How Do We Find The Balance Between Conformity And Nonconformity?
Start writing a post
Health and Wellness

How Do We Find The Balance Between Conformity And Nonconformity?

Analyzing our desire to fit in with society while maintaining our individuality is a part of growing up.

2870
How Do We Find The Balance Between Conformity And Nonconformity?
dont.chilliwackspace.com

From a social psychology standpoint, conformity is the “act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors” to the norms of a group or a society in general. Many would argue that conformity is a part of our basic instinct as human beings. Indeed, it can give us a sense of security and assurance. Different societies and cultures may have varying norms, but it is generally accepted that not conforming to social norms may lead to isolation and ostracization. Often we laud the people who choose not to conform to these standards because it gives them a chance to show their own individuality, yet we don’t always consider the benefits and drawbacks from making such choices.

Speaking from my own personal experience, I do consider myself to be a maverick, especially amidst people my own age, mainly because of my cultural and traditional values that tend to align more with the older generation in Pakistan and India. So, in that sense, I don’t really conform much with American society. I often wear traditional Pakistani and Indian clothes when I go out, even for small errands because I feel comfortable in them, even if people do look at me strangely. I do make myself more noticeable in that way. For me, that is a lot of what nonconformity entails: making yourself stand out by doing the opposite of what is socially expected, or even socially acceptable.

It is important to think about the psychological costs and benefits of living authentically and whether or not the costs outweigh the benefits. Defying societal norms to a certain extent has a satisfying outcome because it shows you who you are as a person and when you find people who accept you for who you are, you know that they care about you enough to not worry about how “out of the box” your thought process and actions may be.

However, this idea made me think about a conversation I had when I was in high school with an elderly woman I met at a senior center I was volunteering at. She told me that she had bipolar disorder and wasn’t diagnosed until her 50s (even though her children had asked her many times to get psychiatric help over the years), and because of that her children had a very tumultuous upbringing because of her mood swings and her erratic behavior. She said that she loved being a free spirit and she loved not caring about what other people thought. But throughout the course of this, she told me that while she was thrilled that she lived her life the way she wanted to, to the fullest, she paid a hefty price for it. Because even though she was physically there for her children and her family, emotionally and mentally she wasn’t and couldn’t connect with them. Even when they told her later in life that she may have a mental illness, she refused to believe or even acknowledge the possibility.

This really struck me because being the child of South Asian immigrants, I do live a life of nonconformity (for the most part). I wear my traditional clothes, which really make me stand out, I only listen to Pakistani and Indian music and I adhere more to Pakistani and Indian culture and traditions than I ever have to American ones. And although I have been lucky enough to have friends and family who not only accept and love me for who I am, they are sometimes slightly bothered by it because they feel that I am consciously ostracizing myself and making myself stand out. But I’ve never really cared about that because I always felt that anyone who wanted to be in my life would have to accept me for what I am, with all my quirks.

Besides, I have always revelled in being different; it makes me feel unique, especially as a minority in terms of my cultural heritage and even in my traditional values, something that is not as prevalent amongst the people in my generation nowadays. However, I like feeling unique, not dismissed. There is an important distinction there. I realize that being in the minority can often mean being pushed to the side and being outvoted. I can remember instances when the people around me acted as though, because I was outnumbered, my choices, needs and input were not even worth acknowledging or given any thought, something I did not appreciate.

Now, don’t get me wrong. When speaking about the elderly woman in the nursing home, I realize that having bipolar illness and not adhering to social norms are two very different things: This woman had a mental illness, whereas I am just doing what makes me comfortable in a way that makes me stand out. But it made me realize that sometimes we do this at the expense of others and that in some ways if you don’t conform, you’re likely to be very lonely and even perceived by others to be somewhat selfish. It’s as if someone is saying, “You can live your life in this way if that’s what you want, but be prepared to live it alone. Don’t be surprised if people shy away from forming long-term relationships with you.” Because people will only accept your personality quirks to a certain extent; It shows them that you care.

It’s the age-old question about whether you change yourself for someone, and if so how much. Because on the one hand you feel like if they love you for who you are they wouldn’t ask you to change, but then you feel that compromising a little bit shows that you do care about their needs as well. It is a question that I don’t know how to answer and most likely won’t know how to answer for quite some time. I do feel like there should perhaps be a balance, but where that balance is is different for each individual. I don’t even think I’ve found it for myself yet in the sense that I know who I am and what I want to be like, but I sometimes struggle because I know that it sometimes makes my family and friends uncomfortable. So, I'm learning to find a balance between who I am and my relationships without compromising my identity.

I know that often people who see me or talk to me would have a hard time forgetting me because of how different I am, whether that is in a good way or in a bad way. I like to think, though, that when people see a person like me who is generally comfortable in her own skin, that they would be inspired to show their own individuality and stand out themselves. After all, in the wise words of Dr. Seuss, "Why fit it when you were born to stand out?"

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Olivia White

"The American flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies from the last breath of each solider who died protecting it."

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Separation Anxiety in Pets

Separation anxiety in pets is a real thing and recognizing the warning signs is important.

213099

Since March, Covid-19 required most of the world to quarantine in their homes. Majority of people ended up working from home for nearly five months. This meant pet owners were constantly with their pets giving them attention, playing with them, letting them out etc. Therefore, when the world slowly started to open up again and pet owners began returning to normal life work schedules away from the home, pet owners noticed a difference in the way their pet acted. Many pets develop separation anxiety especially during this crazy time when majority people were stuck inside barely leaving the house.

Keep Reading... Show less
Robert Bye on Unsplash

I live by New York City and I am so excited for all of the summer adventures.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The invention of photography

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

365872

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1765844

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

1119567
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

996588
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

655266
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments