Individualism deteriorating because of societal expectations


Picture of conformity.

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photo by Sue Jin Park

[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/1″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]Blue hair stands out from a sea of conventional colored heads. A vibrant tattoo contrasts against the mundane clear skin in the surrounding crowd. An uncommonly positioned piercing catches light, on a lip. Small differences that some people apply as their own unique sense of personality are often distinguished by the majority as crude, uncivilized — not normal.

Individualism accounts for the qualities unique to a person, and the way that a person expresses oneself. However, it seems like individualism is deteriorating as people are worrying more about impressing rather than expressing. Today’s society has been marred by the expectations of how people should behave and act.

By definition, conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs and behaviors to group norms. Society is known to have set unspoken rules which all members are expected to follow. But sometimes, people go against those norms and are then the object of judgement, or even disdain.

But what constitutes being a conformist? According to the definition, it would mean simply fitting in with society’s expectations. Yet, people are adamant to say  ‘My beliefs are different’ or ‘Just because I seem normal doesn’t mean I am.’ The purpose of non-conformity is to stand out among the mass, which many people don’t have the courage.

“Normal” is one of those abstract entities that people always apply to society, yet every person defines “normal” differently. It should not be up to one group to decide what is considered acceptable or not, but rather a majority of the population to avoid conflict about contrasting views.

Using myself as an example, I’m an “on-the-fence conformist.” I am a Muslim, and as such, I wear the hijab (head-scarf), which is encouraged in Islam as a form of modesty. The question then becomes, how does wearing hijab make me a non-conformist? Isn’t wearing the hijab mean I am conforming to the expectations of being a Muslim? Well, yes, but I don’t consider that conformity.

For example, if I were a conformist, I would not wear the hijab. I would not want to stick out from the rest of society and “be different.” Since being Muslim automatically makes me a minority, additionally choosing to wear the hijab makes it harder for me to conform to society. If I desired, I could take it off right here and now and never look back. My decision to follow what my religion tells me is what sets me apart.

It shouldn’t have to matter how people act and dress because that’s their own preference, yet society finds it their duty to point out the wrongs of certain people and outcast them. It is up to an individual to decide how they will live their life and societal influence should not have to factor into a person’s decision to behave a certain way. Individualism needs to become more prevalent to shun away mainstream voices and opinions and let freedom of expression be exercised.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]