Identity Against Conformity

If you are reading this, there is a good chance you are a college student going through one of the most influential times in your life…establishing yourself as an adult. As a young child, I can remember dreaming about who I was going to be “when I grew up.” Once I entered my angsty teen years, my dream of “growing up” quickly changed to my dream of “gaining freedom.” Here I sit writing this article, as a college senior, reflecting back on both of these dreams wishing life was still so simple. Maybe you are in the same boat, or maybe you have just entered the chaos of “freedom and growing up.” If that is you, pay attention! College is arguably the greatest and the most difficult four years of your life, but how you choose to let it mold you is vital to your success and happiness. That brings me to the point of this article, defining the difference between identity and conformity.

Adjusting to the hustle and bustle of college life is no easy feat, due to the fact that everything in your life is new and changing. With everything being an adjustment, it can be easy to adjust who you are as a person, especially when the parents are not around to tell you how to act, anymore. Sometimes those adjustments cultivate growth, other times those adjustments result in compromise. As an adult, the outcomes of those adjustments are completely in your hands. This is why it is so important to be confident in your identity. But, how does one find their identity? The word identity simply means “the characteristics that define a person.” Taking it a little deeper, identity is who you are on your core level. What makes you unique? What attributes of your heart and mind are so fervent internally that you refuse to let them change? Who are you, completely independent and unaffected by anyone else? The answer to all three of those questions is sacred and individual to you only. The answers to those questions are YOUR identity. However, sometimes we let that cute boy down the hallway of your dorm help you define your identity or that really smart girl you met in your Chemistry class define your identity or that popular friend you met at the party you went to last weekend define your identity. The list can go on and on, but if someone else is helping you characterize your life is it still yours to claim ownership of? In case you were wondering, the answer is N-O! When you discredit yourself or lack confidence enough to allow other people to help you define your personal self, it is no longer identity- it is conformity. And let me tell you, agreeing to conformity causes one big, ugly reflection in the mirror. Conforming to your peer groups causes you to feel nothing but emptiness and betrayal. It can be extremely easy to fall into the trap conformity set out for you, as you enter your adulthood, but do not take the bait. Taking that bait is like willingly sacrificing your individuality to your peers. It sounds dramatic, but seriously, it is exactly what you do when you fall into that trap. 

Identity is so easily replaced by conformity, but choosing conformity is such a disgrace to your individual path. Why would you choose to conform to someone else’s attributes when yours were custom made specifically for you. It is much better to be original than it is to be copied and pasted. Embrace your differences and encourage your neighbor to embrace theirs. You, as a person, must choose to rejoice in your identity and guard it with all that you have, because there is no measurement that could ever describe the value of your identity. Be proud of who you are.