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At What Price, Conformity? April 2, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.

At times, we are tempted to conform to the expectations of others ~ to use an external reference point to guide our actions rather than being guided by our own inner compass, vision, and values.


But is it worth shaving off the non-conforming parts of ourselves in order to fit our square pegs into round holes?

Which is more important:  gaining approval from others or being true to our selves?

At what price, conformity?


Wikipedia ~ Pinocchio (in Public Domain)

If I pretend to be someone I’m not and people like me . . . I’ve gained nothing, because they’ve fallen in love with a “mask.”

And if they don’t like the “pretend me,” I’m left wondering if the real me would have fared better.

I’d rather be disliked for who I am than loved for who I am not.

Aah . . . that’s better!

To be nobody but yourself ~ in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else ~ means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” ~ e.e.cummings


1. suzicate - April 2, 2014

I think we should be who we are rather than conform, but I do think people, even those who aren’t so nice, should treat others kindly.

nrhatch - April 2, 2014

No matter who we are, being kind benefits everyone ~ > If we’re thinking, “I wouldn’t come to your party if you paid me,” we can tone it down . . . just a tad.

2. katecrimmins - April 2, 2014

The older I get the less I care what others think about me. It’s the really good part of getting older. Wish I was like that early on. Great words of wisdom.

nrhatch - April 2, 2014

Thanks, Kate. I agree ~ it’s great not to waste time protecting the “impressions” we create with others . . . especially since they are not privy to the motivations behind our actions.

“We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.” ~ Ian Percy

BTW: This post snuck out of the editing box sooner than planned. I meant to “update” the draft, and pressed “publish” by mistake. Not a “mindful” moment. We’ll resume regularly scheduled posts tomorrow.

katecrimmins - April 3, 2014

I did notice that you posted at night and I’ve had posts sneak out on me too. Sometimes they have a mind of their own.

nrhatch - April 3, 2014

They do have a mind of their own at times . . . Sneaky Petes!

I usually realize I’ve pressed the wrong button straight away. Last night, I was oblivious . . . until I received comments from you and Suzi.

3. Patricia - April 2, 2014

One of the benefits of getting older is that we do gain in wisdom. Fitting in a being like everyone else just doesn’t have the appeal it once did.
The ee cummings quote is one of my favorites.

nrhatch - April 2, 2014

It is a hard fight at times ~ e.e.cummings reminded himself of that each time he signed his name using lower case letters. It’s easy to lose sight of our priorities and preferences when the expectations of others obscure our view.

4. Rainee - April 2, 2014

I agree with you Nancy. Sometimes though I pretend (or compromise) just for a peaceful life if the cost to me is minimal.

nrhatch - April 2, 2014

I wonder how much of my life has been a compromise versus following my own star? How many times did I “give in” because it was easier to go along to get along?

Rainee - April 2, 2014

Good points. I guess we win some and we lose some and it balances out in the end?

nrhatch - April 3, 2014

Life is a balancing act, but I’m not sure IT all balances out in the end ~ some lives are perpetually off-kilter

5. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - April 2, 2014

Such a great point, not always easy, and I think a lot comes with time, and comes with learning who we really are.

nrhatch - April 2, 2014

Every time I think I’ve got “me” figured out, I realize that the answer is still around the next bend.

“When we know WHO we are . . . we know HOW to live.”

6. barb19 - April 2, 2014

I think we’ve all been there at some point in our life, especially when we were younger and trying to impress. However, I don’t see the point of trying to be someone we’re not, but that kind of thinking has come with age. Kate took the words right out of my mouth….the older I get, the less I care what people think of me.
Like me for who I am, this is me – the real me – a good motto to live by.

nrhatch - April 2, 2014

Exactly right, Barb. At times, it is hard to “just say no” especially when their expectations seem so “reasonable” ~ so we give an inch, then a foot, then a yard, then a mile. And we lose our way.

Until the “who we really are” reminds us that we’re wearing someone else’s suit of clothes.

7. Grannymar - April 3, 2014

I suppose it began with “Children should be seen and not heard!”, but nowadays, I am happy to be me, natural high-lights and laughter lines and always up to mischief.

nrhatch - April 3, 2014

Just imagine if you’d been told, “And don’t let yourself get carried away by a bunch of friendly firefighters.” 😀

Grannymar - April 3, 2014

I was tempted to add that! 😆

nrhatch - April 3, 2014

Who needs a dating service when you get that kind of attention just heading out to pick up peas?

8. Pix Under the Oaks - April 3, 2014

Nancy reading your comment to Rainee hits home for me. I spent a whole lifetime of giving in to get along. Now not so much. I stamp my foot and say NO and I actually have a voice. But I find that sometimes that is a scary place too.. 🙂

I love your thought.. “Every time I think I’ve got “me” figured out, I realize that the answer is still around the next bend.” 😀

I miss my smilies so I have decided to use them with happy abandon. I can’t type my thoughts without them!!!!

nrhatch - April 3, 2014

I hate to hurt people’s feelings, so I often “give in” and do what they want, especially if the time investment isn’t too great ~ e.g., attending obligatory family gatherings on high holidays (when no one really connects with anyone because they are all just “going through the motions) or accepting dinner invitations from people whose company I don’t really enjoy.

But all that wasted time adds up in the end. I would like to get to the point that I can just say, “I’ll pass. Thanks for asking.”

I’m glad that you are again able to punctuate your comments with smiles, Pix. I miss MrGreen and the eyeroll most of all. 😎

9. Val Boyko - April 3, 2014

Looking back, when I was young I was told life was all about conforming …. Thank goodness I was able to discover myself along the way!
You’ve reminded me of a piece of research I came across about the different stages of our consciousness. Most of us go through a conforming stage and then some of us expand our minds further. I’ll look it out and share on www. FindYourMiddleGround.com
Val x

nrhatch - April 3, 2014

We are herded through grammar school like so many sheep ~ get in line, eyes straight ahead, no talking, etc. How would teachers ever teach if 30 hooligans were tossing paper airplanes around the room?

The problem is that we carry what we learned in kindergarten into the “real world” and we’re afraid to let our light SHINE because we are still afraid to step out of line.

On the social plain, extroverts have it easier since they recharge their batteries by being around others. For introverts, being around people tends to be a battery drain.

Young kids are ALWAYS good for a giggle and a mood boost. Probably because we see their inner light shining forth like a beacon.

10. ericjbaker - April 3, 2014

Judicious application of conformity: Keeping your job in an office building by wearing the approved clothes and so on. As far as personal beliefs go, I keep them to myself when I know bringing it up is not going to end well for someone. However, I’m not going to go along with the crowd to win approval.

nrhatch - April 3, 2014

Yes! Following the dress code is a must if we want to keep collecting a paycheck. It’s fun to eavesdrop on the “in crowd” and realize the vacuous nature of conversation they endure.

So much better on the periphery.

11. jannatwrites - April 3, 2014

I’ve had instances where I opt for silence in lieu of engaging in what would become an argument. I’ve never viewed this as conforming- I still have my opinions, I just keep them to myself because it’s easier than engaging in arguments with someone who will see no other way than their way. (I have some family where I do this… arguing just isn’t worth it. Hasn’t been an issue with friends because we generally see eye to eye or let it go.)

nrhatch - April 3, 2014

I agree. Sometimes it’s easier to maintain our silence, even if it’s perceived as acquiescence. So we bite our tongue rather than engage in pointless battles.

Other times, I like to shake things up by speaking up. You know, just to see if anyone’s listening ~ “Can you hear me NOW?”

12. Don - April 3, 2014

“I’d rather be disliked for who I am than loved for who I am not.” So beautifully said Nancy.

nrhatch - April 3, 2014

Thanks, Don. I expect that 9 out of 10 hypocrites would disagree with me.

Oh, well . . . they’re not in my target audience anyway.

13. diannegray - April 3, 2014

It’s just all too hard trying to be something you’re not. I guess I’m lazy because I couldn’t be bothered conforming to anything or anyone’s ideals of what they think I should be or how I act.

I love your ‘falling in love with a mask’ line – there’s nothing worse than getting to know (and/or love) someone and then realising it’s all just a facade…

nrhatch - April 3, 2014

It is disappointing to realize it’s just a facade, but it can also be fun to watch their masks slip, just a bit, when we don’t conform to their expectations . . . “Gotcha!”

14. Three Well Beings - April 4, 2014

I have never read the e.e. cummings quote, and it’s wonderful! I’m not that tough a challenge for others, I don’t think, but sometimes I do find myself wanting to “go back” and restate something I previously said, or explain myself differently if I think there was a wrinkle somewhere, and it dawns on me that I’m trying too hard. And then clear as day it will occur to me to just let it go and be completely fine with who I am (or what I said or did), and wow is that liberating. I think you said it much better, but I’m agreeing with you. LOL!

nrhatch - April 4, 2014

Yes! It’s those little moments that really matter, Debra.

It’s not about being a rebel or a non-conformist, it’s just allowing ourselves to be . . . human. Without wasting time trying to make sure that others “get” where we’re coming from. If we spend all our time trying to explain ourselves to others, we’ll have no time left to live.

15. colonialist - April 4, 2014

True that too many people spend a lot of their lives conforming to things that don’t matter a row of beans. I knew a man who would go into a major frenzy of embarrassment if he had put on non-matching socks in the morning.

nrhatch - April 4, 2014

That’s funny . . . in a sad way. We can be so obsessed with how we come across to others that we make ourselves miserable.

16. bluebee - April 4, 2014

Nowadays, most of the time I don’t really care of what people think of me, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t listen. Taking advice from time to time can be useful, even as one heads to a ripe old age.

nrhatch - April 5, 2014

Yup. As long as we weigh the advice in light of our own experiences without substituting their judgment for our own.

If I had followed “their” advice ~ I’d still be practicing law, and I’d be putting kids through college. Instead, I’m FREE!

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