‘Simply Psychology’ defines conformity as “a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behavior in order to fit in with a group”. Why do we do things that we do not want just to “fit in” with people who we may not even like that much? Conformity can be seen in various ways, be it bowing to peer pressure, agreeing with another due to fear of social rejection, putting one’s own interests behind to please someone else. These are all examples of conformity, that is essentially giving in to another person’s wishes, orders, requests.
It is an obvious fact that in our everyday lives, we have all conformed to someone or the other. It is only natural to do so, we might say. But is it really? Or have we been conditioned over many years to fear the consequences of not conforming? Let’s take a minute to ponder over this. Imagine a common situation, your friends are offering you a drink, you’re not keen, but you finally give in and start sipping, which turns into chugging, which eventually builds up to regret. The next day you wake up with a hangover scolding yourself, saying “I knew I shouldn’t have done that, I’m so stupid”. Another simple situation would be the concept of “mass bunk” wherein students are pressured not to attend classes on a certain day because a few select individuals say so.
In these situations, if you examine them closely, you’ll realize that if you went against your colleagues’ or peers’ wishes, what would happen? They would probably be upset, think you’re no fun at all, maybe even label you as the “weird one”. Now think about this, is that really so bad? Do you really need people around you who don’t understand the real you? The real you doesn’t want to drink, doesn’t want to engage in a mass bunk, yet you do for certain people. Wouldn’t you rather be accepted as you are rather than as an imposter? Interestingly, you may never know, there may be many others like you in the group who are also afraid to voice their true opinion or feelings about something. By doing so, you could set a standard, create a space where people can come forward and truly be themselves.
Let us stop conforming, let us instead be ourselves, no matter how wild and crazy it may seem. We’ve been taught to “follow the herd”, “run the race”, but in reality, there is no herd, nor any race. We’re all individuals, lone beautiful souls trying to create our own little path.