We are so unique that there will never be anyone like us again. So why do we sometimes try to be something we are not or act as conformists? Conformity to societal norms, religions, leaders, and groups may have something to do with COURAGE.
It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be ourselves. To say ‘no’, when the group says ‘yes’; to say ‘why’ or ‘why not’; to stick up for a belief without fear of reprisal– straight, gut wrenching, courage.
The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice…it is conformity,” said Rollo May, author of Man’s Search for Himself. Those who benefit most from the status quo are naturally the least interested in change, and they find allies in the fearful and the authoritarian. In the quotation at the head of this paragraph, Rollo May suggests conformity is due to lack of courage. He certainly had a point. Many people suppress their ideas, hopes, and dreams because they are afraid to stand out and draw attention to themselves. Conformity always includes a threat of punishment if you fail to fit in, whether it comes from ridicule, being shunned by others, or direct attack. Those who seek conformity have never been afraid to back up their wishes with force.
Is either position wrong? Only you can decide that for your own circumstances. I will offer this thought: most of our history’s courageous leaders, activists, and innovators are those who pushed the envelope and did things a little different. From Steve Jobs to Martin Luther King Jr., you will find a wide array of success stories from men and women that were laughed at, reviled, and told ‘no’ one too many times.
Start [truly] being yourself today. Ask questions, challenge statistics, raise your hand, and use your VOICE. I guarantee you, someone will listen.
About the Author- Cameron Knauerhaze is the former CSI Board President and current member of the CSI Council. He is a Orange County, CA Police Sergeant with 16 years experience in patrol, investigations, and community policing. He has a Master’s Degree in Communications from Gonzaga University with advanced studies in Communication Apprehension (CA) and Social Anxiety Disorders.