My Personal Kind of Non-Conformity
I am what you call a good girl: I’ve never taken a drink, smoked, done drugs, or partied. I am in my mid-twenties and I can count how many guys I’ve dated on the fingers of one of my hands and still have some room. In today’s society, where experience reigns, I am a stark anomaly; a delicate wallflower. I realize that I am different and, to be honest with you, I am actually proud of it.
When it comes to rebellion against any established norms and customs, we often associate it with bold statements, gestures, and— in some cases— violent tactics. An act of rebellion can represent dying your hair an unusual colour, dating someone from another religious or racial group or, more drastically, staging a protest to defend a strongly-held belief. Rebellion usually implies an impassioned display and readiness to stand apart from others. It is more than an act or emotion; it underlies a state of being. The Oxford English Dictionary defines rebellion as “the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention”. True rebellion requires perpetual commitment, self-will, and determination. Essentially, rebellion is a day-to-day practice, firmly entrenched in the layers of one’s life. It goes beyond mere appearances; rebellion is a performance and an art form.
The all-seeing public eye watches and we perform. In our own individual way, by rebelling against authority or convention, we begin to express our true identity; as we establish our differences, we colour our life with our chosen purpose; we gain courage and respect. Above all else, we set a powerful example. To be effective, rebellion doesn’t have to employ violence, force, or fear. It can be subtle, quiet, and all the more admirable for it. Rebellion carries a more lasting import when it is not noticed instantly. Devoid of pretentious display, less apparent rebellion achieves more in its quiet power than violence or forcefulness ever will. This is the kind of rebellion I respect and strive to emulate.
Passive resistance, a term coined by Gandhi, refers to a nonviolent protest against authority. It doesn’t constitute passivity, but rather it resists conformity in a peaceful, grounded way. Reflecting on my daily routine and lifestyle, I can say that I endorse my own kind of non-conformity. I have my beliefs and thought they may seem old-fashioned to many people, they represent my natural inclinations. I value restraint and moderation. I value education and self-respect. I value my so-called inexperience.
Granted, sometimes it is hard for me to mesh in well with my peers who are considerably more experienced, I rejoice in the fact that I was able to preserve a semblance of innocence. I am thankful to my parents for raising me the way they did. As I look around, I realize that more and more adolescents tend to grow up quicker and quicker. They want to probe the world around them, trying as many things as they can, because they are afraid to miss out and fall behind their peers. While I praise curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge, I also believe in the defining characteristic and importance of these tender, formative years. Early childhood and adolescence, ultimately, shape our identity, molding us into our future selves.
I think we will always have time to mature, grow up, and experience life in its glorious entirety. Innocence, often ridiculed and underestimated, can be a powerful trait and a marker of distinctiveness. In my inexperience, I see strength and a quiet kind of non-conformity. I don’t consider myself as less competent or more limited in any way. On the contrary, I feel empowered. I know my values and I keep true to myself. I curl up with a good book instead of going to a club; I turn down alcohol; I forego casual dating. I refrain from doing anything that does not feel right to me. I take control of my life.