Conforming. It sounds like such a dirty word without being dirty.
The truth is we are taught to conform a good part of our lives. As kids, we conform to the clothing styles of that time. As kids trying to please parents, we conform to what our parents want us to be. The preconceived notions we possess keep us captive if we let them. I am not speaking to social standards specifically, but to a conformist mindset we are brought up in. Conforming is no way to live your life!
Here are a few tips to breaking free from a life of conforming.
1. Know Thyself
First, if you do not know your own values, passions, strengths, and purpose you need to start there. Without this knowledge the rest of these points are of little use. I would suggest a few activities.
2. Break Away From Conforming VS. Obedience
There is a huge difference between conforming and obeying. I am not advocating disobedience for the sake of disobeying. We are called to obedience, but we are also called not to conform to the ways of the world. Kids, obey your parents… This point has nothing to do with disobeying parents. Conforming is a mindset in which one surrenders themselves to the ways and desires of others. The conformist mindset pushes the individual’s ideas aside and encourages the adoption of the ideas of someone else.
Many college students face this as they head off to school. They may live in the shadows of their sister or brother. Their parents may have always wanted them to follow in their footsteps and become a doctor or lawyer. There are many unstated expectations pressing down on the student before they step foot on their college campus.
Too many people do what is expected only to find out they missed out on their true calling. I have been thinking about what I will tell my daughter as she gets closer and closer to college. My thought right now is this. I will encourage her to find her true passion, if she has not already found it. I want her to feel the freedom to explore her interests. What really causes her to awake ready to pursue her passion without regret.