“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” – John F. Kennedy
As much as we all try to claim that we make independent decisions and are our own person, the truth is that we are bound by the rules of the society we grow up in. We naturally conform to the community around us because humans want to be accepted by their “tribe.” This tendency is biological and dates back to when humans lived in small communities and fitting in with your community meant survival.
I stumbled into an unconventional life of nomading while building impact-focused businesses because I got fed up with traditional jobs and needed a change. After leaving the U.S., I realized I also left behind the baggage that comes with being judged by my community. I’m no longer bound by societal rules because I’m an outsider in every society I visit and I’m switching to a new community every six weeks.
This “escape” has come with a tremendous amount of freedom because I’m now able to fully be myself without any external pressure to conform to societal norms. I get to study and observe the unique conformist natures of each society I visit. Even when I return to the U.S., I’m only passing through, and I’m living a unique enough life that it’s very hard for people to judge me or analyze my social value on a traditional scale.
When you’re within a society, due to the herd mentality, actions that fall outside of societal norms are frequently frowned upon by other members of society. When I dropped out of college, I remember how ashamed some family members were and the strange looks that I got from people. Similarly, when I hated my job and quit with nothing lined up, the reaction from the average person that I spoke with was always “why did you do that?”
I no longer have to face these judgments because I’m no longer on the bell curve, nor do I ever want to be again. I feel like I’m now far enough outside of the norm that there isn’t a chart to judge me on. And this freedom has empowered me to be a more authentic version of me than ever before.
Final / Actionable Thoughts:
I hope that to be example that you don’t have to follow a conventional path and that there aren’t any rules in life. While nomading likely isn’t a practical action step for most people reading this, doing short-term solo travel to a new country is likely the best way to experience some of what I’m describing (if you’re interested!). I believe that traveling adds perspective and that traveling solo pushes you even further outside of your comfort zone and helps you to better understand yourself and the world.
If you believe that traveling internationally is too expensive then stay in a hostel for $7-20/night and check out The Flight Deal or Google Flights where you can sometimes find flights to Europe, Asia or South America from the U.S. for $250-400 USD round trip. And it’s important to note that American citizens can travel to 185 out of 195 countries without a visa (meaning you can just show up without doing any paperwork in advance).
I previously wrote about conformity and changing communities here: The Six Key Lessons I Learned From Conquering Depression.
My anti-conformity inspiration: The Four Videos That Inspired Me To Travel The World.
Conformity and how it affects our decision making: A College Dropout’s Process For Evaluating Life’s “Riskiest” Decisions.