We Must Conform to Fill Our Place

Heather - Glenwood, Maryland
Entered on June 9, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that sometimes, we have to conform in order to fill our place in the world around us.

Like most of my peers, I grew up having been told the basic rules of life—wash your hands, look both ways before crossing the street, always do your best. I have also heard the rules more open to interpretation, as well as the unmentioned words lying in the air. You can be whatever you want (so long as its acceptable by society’s standards). You can be your own person—always be yourself (so long as you are someone that everyone likes). I spent years running after my big sister, who alternately told me to be more like her and to “stop copying her, already!”

By the time I turned thirteen, I had decided to throw in the towel early. I would neither conform nor care what others thought of me, thus achieving both expectations of the world around me. The main flaw in my decision was that I could not avoid caring what others thought of me. I fed on opinions, a masochistic quest to learn what people said about me behind my back. These words that I so fiercely struggled to hear sometimes brought me to tears when I finally heard them. I seldom spoke, fearing that people may not like what I said.

It became easier when I found companions in my resistance to conformity. The Posse, or so we called ourselves, deemed ourselves the only lights in a tunnel of brainwashed, conforming drones. As a mark of our rebellion, or perhaps a coincidence thereof, we all wore the same cotton black zip-up sweatshirt, an irony that I saw only after we separated for high school. Still, they sufficed as protection for me, a blanket blocking from me the truth that I could not, would not speak. Rather than accepting that I did not fit in, I pretended that there was nothing to fit into, that I existed outside the rest of the world

Denial was the fatal flaw. As much I wanted to (and I sometimes still do) crawl under a rock and wait for a more opportune time to exist, I realized that my time is now, and the world is not mine to pass by. There is a place in the world, not outside of it, for everyone, and we must fill it. Conformity is a small and sometimes necessary price to pay in order to live.