The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow.
– Jim Hightower
We are trained, from the very beginning of our lives, to fit in. Your parents teach you how you should speak, eat, dress in a socially acceptable manner.
Your school teaches you what you should study, how you should study it, and what grades define your level of intelligence. The peer pressure tells you what kind of backpack you should have, and what shoes you should wear.
Your job teaches you how you should behave, how you should measure your performance, what kind of files you can use, and how you should label everything and make it uniform like everyone else.
And as you go through all of these stages, you are also taught how you should speak to people, avoid conflict, try not to rock the boat. So essentially, you are taught to be in the average stream where most people are floating like the dead fish mentioned in the above quote.
Most people don’t even acknowledge that they are accepting status-quo. They actually do believe that fitting in is the right thing to do. But then there are others, who simply don’t have the awareness yet. They need a trigger or a catalyst to begin their journey towards who they really are, and who they are meant to be.
The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you, but yourself.
– Rita Mae Brown
5 Signs That You Might Be Settling For A Hand-Me-Down Personality
Your entire life revolves around fitting in and not rocking the boat
Have you spent your life trying to fit in? Did you try so hard to be one of the crowds that you learned to dress like others, speak like others, and laugh at the right jokes?
Fitting in is the most common form of conformity. It starts early for most people, while they are in school. You try to fit in so you wouldn’t be the oddball on the sidelines. You try to fit in so you could be friends with the popular people, or at least so you wouldn’t be sitting alone at the cafeteria table.
You try to fit in at your job, do what everyone else is doing, sucking up to whoever everyone else is sucking up, and slowly and steadily climbing the corporate ladder.
You fit in so you could accompany your husband or wife at their office party. You fit in to be like parents of your kids’ friends so you wouldn’t embarrass them.
You go through life, trying to squeeze yourself into gaps that were not made for you.
Your first thought, when making any decision, is if someone else will approve
What is your thought process while making any important decision? Perhaps you weigh pro and cons. Perhaps you make a decision based on gut reaction. But once you have focused on your individual style, how often do you change your decision because you think someone else won’t like it?
Or perhaps you never actually make the decision because you are worried that other people won’t like it. You keep going in circles, trying to make up your mind, trying to please everyone and please yourself, and so you stay where you are. No decision. No progress.
You measure yourself against other people
How do you define your successes and failures? Is your B not good enough because your best friend or a sibling got an A? Is your salary insufficient because someone else you know makes more money? Or maybe you compare your negative situation to others. You think your job or a relationship – the one that doesn’t make you happy, and keeps you constantly dissatisfied – is good enough, because other people you know are in much worse situation.
You are unable to truly celebrate your successes, because you are always comparing yourself to how much more someone else has achieved. You sweep your failures under the carpet, because you tell yourself that other people have done much worse.
You are easily daunted when someone shots down your idea
Finally, you gather the courage to speak up. You had an idea. Something different. A solution to a problem, or simply a new way to do something. You share it with others. Then someone pipes up and says things like:
“That’s so unrealistic”
“Don’t be ridiculous. We don’t do things like that.”
“We always do it the other way.”
“It will never work.”
So you press your lips together, sink back in your seat, and try to disappear in the corner, wishing you’d never spoken up in the first place.
You rarely feel comfortable in your own skin
Every morning you wake up, wishing something was different. You go to school, and wish you were as cool as the other kids. You go to work, and wish you were as confident as the other people. You go to a party, and wish you were as sexy as someone else. You go to a place of worship and wish you had the inner tranquillity other people seem to have. You wish you had a better accept, better nose, better dress-sense. You wish your kids achieved more, or spouse earned more.
You wish you could be someone else.
Does any of the above sound like you? Be honest. Acknowledgement is the first step to advancement. Unless you acknowledge that you are in a situation you don’t want to be in, you can’t make a conscious change. Until you acknowledge, how much the conventions of conformity have trapped you, you can’t break free.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:
Write in your journal about how the above five apply to you. How much of these 5 things are regular occurrence in your life? Be brutally honest, and don’t hold back. It’s time to face the truth, and then you can decide what changes you want to make.