Conforming is something that every one of us has been guilty of doing at one point in our life. It is an unconscious/conscious decision that our brain makes for ourselves so that we fit in. I see a lot of my friends changing their preferences and opinions and most of the time it’s because they are trying to avoid some kind of embarrassment. They seem to have been conforming to societal standards without even realizing it. So, if our lives have been a culmination of these conscious or unconscious actions until now, what does it take until one understands who they really are?
Being in a class full of prospective computer scientists, it’s easy to stand out, especially with your clothes. Now I love to dress up, who doesn’t?
Well, it turns out a lot of people in my program don’t really care much. People really are on the “minimal effort” bandwagon. So, starting out on my first day of university, I tried not to “overdress.” It was sad to have my nice clothes sit in a sad corner of my closet, but I needed to blend in and appear like I belonged there. Nobody really said anything, but it was an unspoken social norm in my head that I just ended up following. It took me months of observation and self-talk to reach the “don’t give a damn” mindset because while you are trying to conform, you really start becoming self-aware of what you really are and want to be. My personality doesn’t want me to follow a non-existent dress code, so I didn’t.
Like many questions in this world, this one doesn’t really have a clear answer that will work for everyone. People have been shaped by circumstances around them so often, that they are often out of touch with themselves. Not everyone has had the luxury of growing up without conflicts or having resources readily available to discover their interests. Sometimes, one has no choice but to be in an alien situation and realize what they wish they could be doing differently. Having the self-awareness from the beginning is rare, until then, one has to keep throwing themselves out there and keep questioning and answering themselves on how they could be doing things differently or better. Try to be as self-aware as possible because what makes you feel happy or sad about being in that place and time is crucial in building your identity. Take notice of things that make you comfortable and ones that don’t. Don’t go out dressing in a suit and tie if you prefer sweatpants and vice versa.
Believe me, none of us are sheep and we shouldn’t try to be one either.