January 16   

Today's quotation:

Nature made us individuals, as she did the flowers and the pebbles; but we are afraid to be peculiar, and so our society resembles a bag of marbles, or a string of mold candles.  Why should we all dress after the same fashion?  The frost never paints my windows twice alike.

Lydia Maria Child

Today's Meditation:

One of the biggest frustrations of teaching high school was watching as the young students tried so hard to fit in with certain groups that they adopted certain behaviors, ways of dressing, and ways of looking at the world just so that they would have more in common with the people they felt comfortable with.  There were always exceptions, of course, but for the most part, the young people were more interested in being just like others than they were in expressing their unique selves.

We say that we encourage young people to express their individuality, but do we really?  Do we criticize when someone does something that we don't expect or want them to do?  Do we say "Cool shirt," or do we ask, "Why are you wearing that?" because maybe we feel a bit embarrassed to be with the person when they're wearing such a thing?

I really don't want to be just another marble in a bag.  I don't want to do things just to be different, because then they don't feel authentic, but I do like to do things that I really feel like doing.  If my socks don't match, who cares?  I like colors, and having more colors on makes me feel good.  Sometimes I have to catch myself because I find myself choosing clothes based on how I think other people will react, and I have to just ask myself, "What do I feel like wearing today?"

What can we become if we try to be truly unique, truly the people we're meant to be?  Unfortunately, most of us never will find out because we've simply gotten used to following the lead of others, copying people with whom we want to have something in common, preferring the ease of conformity to the scariness of individuality.  It's not the way we have to do things, though, and it may be a good idea to explore our individuality one of these days!

Questions to consider:

What are some of the ways that conformity seems so attractive to us?

How can we express our individuality without forcing the issue, without being different just for the sake of being different?

What kinds of things can you do today to express your uniqueness?

For further thought:

Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords of the modern world where everyone seems to crave the anesthetizing security of being identified with the majority.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

more thoughts and ideas on conformity



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