To Be a Conformist, or To Be a Conformist?

Written by Catie Darts

It was the era of Transcendentalism, founded upon the new thoughts and ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson. In a nutshell, he believed God, nature, and humans were all united, and if one could be anything, he should be an individual. Emerson, in his essay Self-Reliance, states, "There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide". If this holds true, then we all must be put to death by our own hands.

Imitation is practically the opposite of suicide today. It is a way of life. It is the foundation upon which we grow as human beings. Yes, my friends, individualism. Be yourself! Don't be a second-rate version of someone else! This is the battle cry resounding from the supposed "individuals" of today. I pose this question to you: is it possible to be an individual, thinking independently as a sacred temple of nonconformity? You can try to be to be your own entity as much and as often as feel necessary. But you shall fail.

To my knowledge, there were really only two individuals in the history of this forsaken universe, and these are Jesus and Aristotle. But they were seen as insane fools in their times. So why do we want to be individuals anyway?

I invite those of you who are out of high school to come back and enter the doors of any secondary school. Who will you see? The Popular Kids, the Goths, the Punk Rockers, the Sluts, the Kids-Next-Door, the Computer Conquistadors.

Guaranteed, they'll be there.

I find it humorous when I see, for example, a girl walking down the corridor with a plaid skirt over pinstripe spandex with a chain hanging down, and a tight denim vest with patches and pins on every square inch. It just screams, "I am an individual and I don't give a fuck what you think!" This is where the mental complex is illogical, and thus ridiculous.

First of all, you DO give a fuck what I think, or else you wouldn't care enough to dress that way. It takes time, effort, and intention to dress like that, and you WANT to look that way.

Secondly, is dressing differently than the popular kids really individuality? No. You may say you're not conforming. But the only thing you're not conforming to is dressing like a select group of other conforming kids. There are tons of other people who dress the way you do, and you're just another one of them, conforming to a different, separate conformity.

So no, you're not original. Not in the least. People can deny trying to be like someone else, but it is useless. No one is a full-fledged individual. Even after graduating high school, and college, and when you grow out of those stages where you want to dress and be different than the social norm, you may get a job. You have to have certain qualifications, certain skills to work at wherever you desire.

Now, I do not think that an employer would like to see his employee work at his or her job the way he or she feels like working it, or doing things his or her "own way". Thus, you are once again obliged to conform to the wants and needs of the system. And the cycle continues.

The pop-rock band Good Charlotte has a bitter, misanthropic lyric that goes, "I don't wanna be you, I don't wanna be just like you." Now, if they think that singing a song about being an individual, and wearing black eye makeup and painting their nails black is original, then yay for them. But they're not, dammit! They have a snowflakes chance in hell of being original. It's simply, hardcore hypocrisy. Looks are only skin deep, and the brink of individuality is much deeper than skin. It goes down to the bones, the blood, the soul. Perhaps they could sing about not wanting to dress like other people. By all means, be my guest. But do not proclaim to the world that you are an individual, because you're all damn conformists! So unless you are the Son of God, or an ancient Greek philosopher, I suggest you shut the fuck up and concentrate on being the best conformist you can possibly be.

Since individualism isn't by any means about what you wear, it is thus about how you think. And in that case, STILL no one is an individual. We are always encouraged to think for ourselves, but how is that humanely possible, when from birth we have been thrown into a firey pit of education and forced to learn and memorize things by watching others, and listening to others, who were also thrown into that very same pit before us! The only individual aspect about humans is that we have our own physical bodies. However, we really don't even own our bodies. According to many, they belong to God, because He created us. Thus, we really have no individuality in or about us whatsoever.

So, fellow conformers, you can try to hide your hideous compliant faces, and you can try to show that you truly are your own person, pretending to be a victim of a cookie-cutter society. But, you will never escape the prevailing fact that you are just not an individual. Lay down your originality swords and your shields of self-expression forged in the false fires of non-existent individualism; and fuck it, stop trying to be someone your not, and start being who you really are: like everyone else.