A Japanese proverb says, “The nail that sticks out will be hammered down. ” Society tries to place many rules on us as individuals as to what is acceptable and what is not. We must decide for ourselves whether to conform to such a social decorum. We are taught as soon as we are old enough to grasp the idea that it is bad to be unique and to avoid being different. At some point, however, we must decide within ourselves whether to spend every day trying to be like everyone else because society says we should or living each day true to ourselves. Our strength as a person is proven through what we decide.
E. E. Cummings once said, “To be nobody but yourself-in a world which is doing it’s best night and day to make you like everyone else-means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting. ” The benefits of being true to ourselves greatly outweigh any negative aspects of choosing that path. One of the most obvious advantages of being true to ourselves is that people will see us, perhaps for the first time, without a mask. People will see what we are really like on the inside. They will see our talents, imperfections, and preferences. Then they will have the opportunity to accept us on our own terms.
As we work to show our true selves to society, we may discover things about ourselves we did not already know. We all have God-given talents of which we may or may not be aware. After we stop hiding whom we truly are, our talents will have the opportunity to come to the fore. Second, society teaches us to conform by not thinking for ourselves. We are simply told how to solve a problem or accomplish a task. We are never taught why or how something works. If we do not attempt to break out of that mold, we will never get to the point where we wonder why or how things work.
A young child constantly asks “why? He has yet to realize that it does not matter, according to teachers and leaders of society, why the sky is blue. It only matters that it is blue. Perhaps there is an underlying fear that if we begin to question innocent things like the color of the sky we will one day begin to question government policies, etc. Then we might discover that many “great leaders” in this world have convinced us to believe their version of the truth. “To be great is to be misunderstood? ” (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance). The greatest people in the history of the world were misunderstood.
If we want to be great, we can safely assume that we must be willing to be misunderstood. However, we cannot be misunderstood if we conform to the standards of society. If we act and think and talk exactly as everyone else, we will never run the risk of being taken the wrong way. Therefore, by being ourselves we are grouped with the some of the greatest people who ever lived. We may not reach their ranks of fame simply by being ourselves, but, in essence, we are just as great as they are in that we have the strength to be ourselves. It has been said that fools seldom differ.
So if we were not willing to be different, to many we would be considered a fool. Emerson also wrote, “? God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. ” This tells me that in order to be used by God I must not be afraid to be different from the crowd. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Holy Bible, New International Version). We may discover God’s will for our lives by not conforming to this world and its decorum.
In conclusion, I agree with Emerson’s ideas about conformity. I think that there are times when it is best to try to conform, but most of the time you stand to gain the most by being yourself. When we do not conform we are seen for who we really are, we learn to think for ourselves, we are aspiring to be great, and we may perchance discover what God would have us do with our lives. By deciding to be ourselves no matter the cost, we stand to gain much more from life than we could ever lose. “A ‘No’ uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble” (Mahatma Ghandi).