To Conform, or Not to Conform | Teen Ink

To Conform, or Not to Conform

January 19, 2012
By welcometoplanetearth SILVER, Devon, Pennsylvania
welcometoplanetearth SILVER, Devon, Pennsylvania
9 articles 2 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
-W. Somerset Maugham

I can turn on my TV or log onto the internet almost every day and see something trending. It could be a news article, tweet, the Most Popular section on On Demand, a fashion fad, or pretty much anything that is popular at the moment. Trends are a type of conformity: everyone wants to see, have, or do it. Even if I hit the refresh key on my computer and the words headlining the Verizon News Page change, what was there before was once a popular thing. The struggle to keep up with fads is stressful, but desirable for many people. They are simply what everyone wants.

Take a recent craze for example: the Silly Bandz trend of last year. They got so out of hand that schools started to ban them. It wasn't uncommon to find a broken rubber string in the hallway, being trampled on by the shoes of unaware students. Colorful stripes looped up and down children’s arms, whether they had two Bandz or two hundred. It was amazing how one little thing could drive such a trend in an amazingly large, diverse country as America. Yet even locally, we have very similar trends on a much smaller scale. If you go to my school and bought a pair of Sperry Topsiders in the past few months, it was probably because they were suddenly popular. I experienced this fad too. As they started popping up on people's feet around the school, my brain suddenly twisted that Topsiders weren't some weird thing that my dad wore on a very regular basis; they were cool. They were desirable. I absolutely had to have them! So a few weeks later, I walked out of Nordstrom’s with a smile on my face and a silver bag in my hand, carrying a brand-new pair of camel-colored, plaid-sided, lace-up Sperries. I was thrilled.

You can say that people follow trends to be popular and fit in. This is partially true. When other people are wearing or saying things, it is amazingly desirable and jealousy-inducing to be able to share their glory in this newfound discovery, even if you have almost no clue what it is. Many people loose themselves in trends to be popular, even if it means to begin to forget their individuality. I think that in our age of technology when information can spread so fast, people should still strive to be an individual. Unfortunately, with our stereotypical view of individuality being Goths and hipsters who want nothing to do with the mainstream world and the lure of popularity being so strong in many people's lives, it can be hard for a person to break out of their shell and be themselves. People should stick to at least some individuality because then you will find people who will appreciate you for who you are throughout your life. Covering up your inner self can be disastrous in certain situations, such as marriage. If you marry someone with them thinking you are who you truly aren't, divorce can be an early and sad outcome. Define your interests, personality, and actions early in your life so you can find good people who like you for who you really are, not what brand you buy your shirt from or how up-to-date you're on with celebrity news and trends. It's still great to follow fads, as long as you don't lose yourself. The key is finding a perfect balance between conformity and individuality.

The author's comments:
To prep ourselves before reading a book in English class, my English teacher had us write an essay on conformity versus individuality. Titled "To Conform or Not to Conform," I wrote mine on the pressure to be popular while still staying true to yourself.

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