The Art of Unique Conformity


If you are reading this I am going to go ahead and assume you are a creative intellectual.  You know, the type of person who tries to improve themselves by doing things differently, who tries different things, loves to learn new things, and is generally a bit more passionate than most people.  In fact, if you are reading here at Zen College Life, you are already by definition unique.

unique (y-nk): unusual; extraordinary; remarkable;

At this stage in life most of us will have to face facts: we probably can’t be successful in life unless we play the game, at least somewhat.  A doctor usually can’t rock a mohawk,  a teacher can’t dress in the traditional goth wear etc.  But that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice that voice inside of us telling us to be different, to express passion.

Now when I say ‘to be different’ I’m sure you understand that I don’t mean different just for the sake of being different.  That would just be another form of conformity.  What I’m talking about here is different for the sake of expressing yourself.  I don’t know about you, but if I were a business major I would dread the idea of waking up every morning and putting on that black or gray suit, white or blue shirt, and boring tie every day.  But as we all know corporate America has a couple of expectations of you when you join, and dress code is definitely one of them.

So what we have to do is find ways to manipulate the system to allow for personal expression while not crossing any lines or stepping on anyone’s feet.

Small tweaks to the system allow for us to be different without breaking the rules.  It really is an art, and to master it we must find balance.  To the business man tired of looking like every other business man, I say start small.  Find a cool tie you absolutely love and rock it like a rockstar.  Or even better, find a small pin that really expresses what you are passionate about at the moment (as long as it’s work safe…) and rock it on your lapel.  People will notice, take interest that you are passionate about something, and it will have fantastic positive outcomes.

Isn’t it funny how we are expected to follow all these rules, and yet if we do we aren’t considered unique or remarkable at all?  And yet the guy who wheres the green suit to the interview somehow scores the job every time?  What green suit guy did wasn’t break the mold;  he’s wearing a suit…  No what green suit guy did was refine the mold, he took the recipe and made it his own.  And it works!

We are in a world where we are expected to conform and yet those who do not end up the most successful.  This tells me that 100% conforming is not a route to success.  Success comes with passion, hard work, and a little self expression.  And black suite, black tie guy doesn’t have an ounce of self expression in his body.  You don’t want to be that guy do you?

Everyone is attracted to passion.  We love people who are invested in things, people who care, people who stand up and do things.  So it only makes sense that people will be attracted to our passion if we quietly sport it on our shirtsleeves.

So find your passion and rock it, regardless of whether or not others are doing it.  Don’t worry about conforming 100%.  Follow the rules, but change the recipe to fit you.  Just make sure your passion is being expressed your sleeve and not being jammed down someone else’s throat.  Nobody likes a showoff…

What do you think about unique conformity?  What are your experiences with conformity, non-conformity, etc?  Leave a comment, we’d love to hear it!