At some point in our lives, we’ve all had to choose between conforming to the accepted ideas of society or to your own belief. Well, there’s a simple but complex answer to that question: for the most part, it’s good to stick to your own beliefs but there are times that it’s better to conform to popular belief. Being different from others is okay, that difference is what makes you weird and that’s good because the weirdest people are the most fun. Like who wants a “normal” friend?
Sticking to your own belief means you’re being different from the rest of society in some way and that’s good. Like in Scarlet Letter, Hester was given the letter which in a sense made her different from everyone else from the community, but it helped her, it made her a stronger person. From a young age, we’ve learned that being different is a bad thing, that if we’re different then people will think of us differently and judge us. When we were kids, being different meant sitting by ourselves, being isolated from everyone else. Like Pearl, she was strange, unlike any other child from the community which led people to think of her as the Spawn of Satan. Yet as we grow it, being different becomes more acceptable, like Hester was first judged as a sinner but as time went on, she was view as strong. “Such helpfulness was found in her,— that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength.” Conformity makes us all the same but when we don’t conform to certain ideas then we realize that it takes strength to put yourself out there, to show the world what you believe without caring for what society has made people believe.
Everyone wants to feel a sense of belonging, that’s one of the reasons we conform to ideas, but that doesn’t always make us happy. In Facebook Friendonomics by Scott Brown, he gives some insight on Facebook friends or just social media followers, that it’s okay to lose some of our “friends on Facebook. How it works is we try to get as many “friends” as possible by friending our childhood classmates, people we barely know, basically anyone we possibly can. Society makes you believe that having so many “friends” would make you happy, but it doesn’t. Having these friends just give as a false sense of popularity, but when was the last time you’ve talked to these people, do you even remember these people? The idea that having the most friends/followers will make you happy is a lie, why have a bunch of “friends” what you barely know, when you can go out and make real, good friends what will stick by you in your times of need?
Going back to what I said earlier, from a young age, we learn that being different is a bad thing. But, the literature we read, the movies we watch try to teach us differently. According to Charlotte Ashlock, “…the quality that isolates you from the group and makes you a subject of mockery, is not a deformity but a blessing in disguise.” In the books and movies, the people who start out as being alone, judged for being different, end up being the ones that have the happy ending. For example, in Lilo and Stitch, Lilo was different from all the other little girls, she stood out with that imagination of hers, but she ended up happy with Stitch and Nani by her side. If it weren’t for her difference then Lilo would’ve never adopted Stitch at the pet shop and both her and Stitch’s life we be different, probably worse because Stitch brought adventure into her life and helped her realize things like the importance of family. What about Elsa from Frozen? She isolated herself because of her powers because she saw it as a dangerous, but that’s what made her special. And, in the end, though her powers were harmful, she still managed to have a happy ending with Anna. Also if it weren’t for her powers then there wouldn’t be Olaf, and Olaf is just so cute, that would have deprived the world from cuteness.
But there are times when conforming to ideas is better. Like, faqs.org says, laws are essentially ideals that we’ve conform to, well most of us. Even when people aren’t there to watch our every move, we still obey them, not only because it’s illegal not too but because it’s the ideals we were taught since we were young. Well there are people who don’t, like those who do illegal substances, those who run red lights, those who don’t stop at stop signs, and more, but these ideas that most people have conformed to, do keep us safe. In her essay, Life, Bertrand Russell argues that happy man is one that feels like they’re part of society. Well, how does one feel that way? Conforming to society’s belief gives us a sense of belonging. That’s why we do the things we do, like giving into peer pressure or trying to be like the standards that society has set. Everyone wants to be happy, and sometimes conforming, being part of society, is the easiest way to do this, though maybe they’d be more happy if they would just be themselves.
In the end, whether it’s conforming or not, whether it’s being different or not, it’s what makes you happy that matters. And, we’re never a hundred percent one way or the other, we conform to some ideas and we don’t for other, we’re unique in some ways but we’re not in others.