The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself.
~Rita Mae Brown
Man that quote cut me deep.
My heart is physically aching as I think about how much of my life I spent conforming. Sometimes, conforming was so subtle I didn’t recognize it for what it was.
I remember getting a pair of trendy earrings as a gift. I didn’t like them much and considered giving them away. Before too long, everyone I knew was wearing this particular line of jewelry, and eventually, I wore the earrings. My friends and even a few strangers complemented me. Being “in the know” about this particular brand made me feel accepted. I conformed, and was reaping the rewards.
At the time, I didn’t cognitively realize what I was doing, but now I see it clearly.
I wore something I didn’t like because my peer group liked it.
When I put it like that it’s more embarrassing than I thought. I spent a little time feeling sorry and humiliated about this, but I’m moving on. If you’re reading this, I’m out from under my shame rock because I published it (or because you’re one of my editor friends).
It’s mind boggling that I spent any time and effort trying to conform because I’m not all that different from you.
The truth is, we’re not all that different from one another. No matter what makes us different, we have so much more that makes us alike.
We all love our kids. We all strive for balance.
We all do our best. We all want to live in peace.
We all face hardships.
Our particular struggles are unique, but we all struggle.
I’m guessing that’s true in your life, too?
We have so much in common as women, as mothers, as human beings, yet we either try too hard to fit in or try too hard to be different that we lose the ability to see our common traits.
Do our attempts to fit in actually cause us to be more separate and disconnected? I can’t speak for everyone, but that has certainly been true in my life.
My desire to fit in hindered my ability to be myself and kept me from being able to make true friends. I’m sure the root of the problem was I didn’t know myself all that well, and I didn’t like what I knew about me.
I’m happy to report I’ve mostly overcome this particular struggle, but I really regret not having been true to myself earlier in life. If this message helps just one person learn to know and love themselves, then all the pain was worth it.
But it does soften the blow.