“Whoso would be a [wo]man must be a nonconformist”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
To be a nonconformist takes courage. Courage to face a society or a culture in which you do not belong. To believe in who you are and what you stand for is the ultimate test in this life. To pass this test means to have succeeded in living life truly and authentically.
The test of nonconformity is delivered in the smallest of ways. It need not be a significant event. It could simply be the challenge to stand up for yourself when others pressure you to do something you do not like.
Society and culture are filled with norms and expectations. It is normal and expected to party in college, to enjoy drinking alcohol, to binge on unhealthy foods. It is perceived as the epitome of having a good time. It’s the way in which our culture tends to celebrate life with friends. So when someone comes around and chooses not to participate in that cultural norm, it is perceived as weird and even lame. It is perhaps social suicide. This type of person is automatically outcasted and assigned with a negative image. Which is the reason people tend to give in. To just sacrifice one’s own beliefs and preferences for the sake of fitting in. But whoso would be a man or woman must be a nonconformist. To have the courage to disregard those societal pressures in order to live a truly happy life.
The case of drinking alcohol hits home for me. Some people just simply don’t enjoy drinking alcohol in the same way some people don’t enjoy eating desserts. It’s simply a matter of personal preference. But this happens to be a problem anytime there is a party, a night out with friends, a special occasion. Because majority of the time there is alcohol present and you are expected to drink. Not only are you expected to drink, you are often expected to get wasted. This is the cultural norm. A way of acting in society that helps you fit in and belong. Let me be clear, it is totally acceptable to participate in these norms if that is what makes you happy. But the problem is when someone is not happy doing those things and has to face the predicament of judgement and outcasting from others. Why can’t they be accepted as they are? Why can’t it be normal to not drink as well as to drink? But in the end this is the challenge for a nonconformist. To face the crowd with strength and courage in order to uphold that which is true to you in your heart. To be one’s self and not give in just to fit in.
Taking on the challenge of nonconformity leads to a road less travelled. It means you might have to do things alone and be okay with that. Because not everyone will understand you or your lifestyle choices. And that’s okay. It takes growth and maturity to come to terms with the way you are and the life you enjoy living. To realize that true happiness is rooted in self-acceptance. Being cool with you are and the life you live.
In my own life I have chosen to put my health and fitness first. My passion for health and fitness drives me to skip the bar on a Friday night in order to wake up early on a Saturday morning and head to the gym or go for a hike. Because that makes me happy and makes me feel fully alive. If I were to go out instead on a Friday night to drink with friends I would feel guilty in some way. Guilty for rejecting my truest self. The self that is passionate about health and fitness. The self that wants to live a life fully aligned with being fit and staying active as a means to ultimate happiness and fulfillment.
It may seem extreme to others. A little uptight even. I have been told countless of times to “loosen up” and just have fun. As if drinking is the only way people can get off and have fun in life. I am loose and alive when I am active and outside. That is my kind of party. I am simply living a lifestyle that makes me happy and I refuse to do anything that makes me unhappy. Whoso would be a woman must be a nonconformist and willing to take on anything that challenges you act differently in order to fit.
“Why are we expected to be some way?
Or act different to cater to they
Say “i don’t have to be” and “i don’t feel the need to fit in with society”
Forget it now
I don’t wanna hold on to
A feeling that will get me nowhere
Say I don’t want to be like you
Say I don’t ever want to changeWell, in fact
Tonight I’m changing up my ways
Getting back to my true free rein
Then and only then myself remains”-Rebelution, Take on Anything