The weather is getting warmer here in Buffalo, and my teens decided to forgo wearing their coats to school. My son was actually going to wear flip-flops one day, but I insisted on sneakers. I don’t believe beach shoes are appropriate for school. I know… I’m the worst mom in the world! I don’t believe that, but that’s the impression that I get from my kids.
It amazes me when I get responses like, “But all of my friends get to do it.” They want to be like everyone else. They want to fit in. They believe in the ads that say, “If you want to be beautiful, use this makeup, wear these clothes, and buy this phone.”
Many think that going with the trends, is the only way to live. It’s what’s hip, now, in, rad, cool, and dope. I don’t see the need to follow the trends. I wear sweats most of the time, as opposed to the latest fashions. I prefer my older model cell phone, instead of having the latest gadget. I certainly don’t want to have anything to do with the word “dope.” Honestly, who comes up with this stuff?
We all want to fit in, and be accepted. I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “Birds of a feather flock together.” This fortune reminds me that the flock might not be flying in the direction you want to go. It’s okay to take a different course. Fly, be free!
Some of the greatest accomplishments and discoveries have come from those who refused to follow the flock. Whether it is in science, religion, philosophy or the arts, nonconformists have so often made the difference in human affairs.
Galileo Galilei bucked the system and became a scientific revolutionary during the Renaissance. This odd ball supported “crazy” ideas like the Copernican theory, the idea that the sun is the center of the solar system. This challenged the doctrine of others, including the Catholic Church, and they accused him of heresy. We now have evidence, much collected by Galileo and other scientists, which prove this solar-centrist theory. His observations, though confounded at the time, laid the foundation for modern physics and astronomy.
Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. – Albert Camus
Martin Luther was also declared a heretic, by the Catholic Church, for rejecting several teachings and practices, like the sale of indulgences. He began the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, and translated the New Testament of the Bible into German. This allowed those, not educated in Latin, to read the Holy Scriptures for themselves.
Wait, a religious man spreading teachings against the old ways, surely this is the only time we have had to deal with this. No, I can think of a couple other nonconformists in religion, Jan Hus, Paul the Apostle, and Jesus. Yup, all went against tradition and the norm. They left the flock to start their own.
The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote on individuality and morality in contemporary civilization. Maybe not a page-turner by most standards, but it made him stand out of a crowd. Nietzsche radically critiqued reason and rejected object truth in favor of perspectivism, a view that all ideations take place from particular perspectives. I guess you could say he had a different way of looking at things.
The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. – Friedrich Nietzsche
Although the Nazi Party used aspects of his work to justify their actions, he was a major influence on philosophers, like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung; and writers such as Nobel Prize in Literature laureates, Thomas Mann and Albert Camus.
The artist, Salvador Dali, is best known for The Persistence of Memory, with its melting clocks. He was a bit of an outsider. Many would criticize him for his eccentric nature, but behind the curled mustache and radical behavior was a man that simply wanted to paint what he saw in his dreams. This made him an important representative of the Surrealist movement.
Ludwig van Beethoven was a nonconformist. What, this comes as a shock to you? Cue his Symphony No. 5, Op. 67 (1st movement) – ba-ba-ba-buum. This German composer was a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras of music.
The classical music of the early 18th century was lighter, and generally sounded more structured and predictable. The music of the Romantic era was more emotional and intense, quickly shifting back and forth from very intense to very calm.
Beethoven went against the mainstream melodic meme, and wrote from his heart. He was like a 19th century Beetles, with slightly less hair and knickers. Think how different our culture would be without the works of Beethoven, many written while he was deaf.
These nonconformists actually ended up being “trend setters,” and people followed their ideals. I say revel in your individuality. Be the leader, not just one in the flock. Stand up and stand out in a crowd. Your one small voice could be great.