Conformity. What does it mean to you? Subjective, yes; but everywhere in the world. What does it mean to me? It means, being bred to lead a life that your parents wish of you. For me, I was bred to goto the college from the day I entered pre-school. College was already paid for by my grandparents for my brother and I. Once high school ended, I really thought it was criminal to do anything else but goto college, and did not realize you can do other things. Being that naive is scary looking back on it. When a fellow classmate told me that they were going to work for a year first or something to that effect, I would say is that legal? Laugh, please do, because I laugh at my attitude then too. In all fairness, I really should have just not gone to a four-year university away from home fresh out of high school and have gone to a community college to get basic classes in first and to sort out what I really wanted to do in life.
I thought I had it all figured out, I wanted to be a FBI agent since eighth grade courtesy of my obsession with the show the x-files. My current self laughs at that now , but then I was dead serious. Therefore I enrolled in criminal justice , even wrote the FBI of my intentions in eighth grade and then responded back with what the application would look like and would look for me in the future or something to that effect. My parents and every family member in the extended lines all went to universities , were successful and working, and it was always insinuated I would follow suit. There was no other option to be successful. Sometimes I would tell them of my big music interests and they would tell me that was a pipe dream basically and I cannot rely on that. It makes sense but at the same time , due to those words that I trusted, I did not really explore my music playing like I do now. See music was a backbone of inspiration and getting through my teens of turmoil with mental illness. Certain songs just moved me, to dance, sing, the louder the better. It could take me to a whole new mood on the other end of the spectrum in one minute flat. When my parents were fighting, lock myself in my room with music. Mood swings, music. You get the idea.
I did actually sing in the choir at church, rang the bells there and did two years of clarinet. I left the clarinet because the next step was to be in the marching band and I had no interest at marching with a wind instrument in uniforms like some sort of gang. Out the door went that and I found other things to do. Middle school, I did amateur modeling which I really loved, nothing big but three years of it was very fun. I then transitioned into writing for a newspaper in the next big city over during high school for four years. I only stopped because I went to college and you had to be a high school student in the county to do it. Expressing your thoughts was pure joy and to have it published for anyone to see, bliss.
Thinking back, I remember my grandmother molding me for college, she wanted me to goto Michigan State University just as she did , and my mother. I had no interest in that, I wanted to get farther away with a college that specialized in criminal justice. Despite not going with her flow, she supported me anyways. During college, I realized I did not want to carry a gun and was not comfortable with it. I had to think what major should I go with now? I explored the graphic arts because Art was always a great past time for me my whole life, so I went with Printing Management as a degree which really was a split decision made thinking I had to hurry up and fix everything. The reason I chose that degree is because it deals with graphic arts in a portion of it. A very specialized degree that is not offered in many places in the USA but is everywhere if you think about how many printed products out there. No, not Kinkos. Think large-scale like National Geographic, People Magazine, Newspapers, label printing on food cans, Billboards, educational book printing, all books, you get the idea.
Fast forward to my senior year. I realized after my internship with a book printer , that I am totally bored with the field. Very technical and I got no satisfaction out of it. My creative sense was not satisfied and it didn’t seem important to me. Depression set in very badly , and even though I finished college and did decent; graduation loomed like a dark storm coming in. I was not looking forward to it, moving home and moving on. Others were super happy, and excited, I did not share that. I did not want to move home to the dysfunctional home that I fled away from to college. Nothing changed there, no friends were there anymore, and I felt like a loser moving back home. Feeling an obligation to take jobs like my parents wanted and everyone else, I took ones that I cared nothing about in and out of my field. Jumped around in them, getting bored after mastering them, not knowing why at the time what was wrong, just kept on trucking. My mind was always set with , what? Conformity. Conformity to do what is expected of me, make a living, work after college. Just what everyone else was doing freshly out of college. I despised feeling out of the loop and not on track. It did not matter if I was unhappy, just work. If I did not , my parents, and grandparent would be what? Disappointed. They spent all this money to set me up for the future, I should perform and succeed.
Obsessed with not failing or letting anyone down, I stayed depressed. In and out of jobs, but kept trucking on. Drinking filled in boredom, partying some, social life. Nothing like college with my sorority and all, I started feeling disconnected with friends, and would not attend weddings and such because I did not want anyone asking me what am I doing now. I was embarrassed to say I was living at home but working, and nothing I really care about. Not making enough to move out either. The rest of them were well on their way, on their own, and liked their jobs. See during college, I always felt like I fit in, belonged, and knew that is where I was meant to be. Once that ended, it was like a snow-covered roof collapsed.
Years later, I did move out with my now husband, took retail jobs , waited while he finished college. Then when he did, he got a job, and we moved far away from our home state to start our new life. See Michigan was number one in unemployment at the time, and jobs were not coming easy. We did what we had to survive on our own and not wanting to live with family anymore. I am not sure but I think some family to this day resent us leaving , making it harder on them to visit. I guess they really don’t get survival of the fittest.
Five years later, I am still just doing whatever which is substitute teaching just for some job but that bores me too. No creativity in that, just a glorified babysitter following a schedule. My husband is a certified teacher and I have found doing long-term assignments, I am just a big glorified babysitter that does not use my creative sense much. So here I am trying to find that job that fits my ADD sense and still not really satisfying my family’s need that I succeed like I should have after college. By now I have told them, I have had a ton of obstacles that have gotten in the way in terms of mental illness that they did not contend with when they were in college and getting a job right out of college was very easy. They were able to stick with that job and retire. Well pin a rose on your nose I tell them. This is a different time, economy, and world. I hate the feeling that I feel they think I have not measured up, but I have also told them to fuck off, literally. I got to the point that I told them to accept me for who I am or don’t talk to me. The look on their faces was priceless.
Go bold and prosper, do not conform. Conformity is boring, and backwards for me to follow. At least I enjoy life despite the struggles. Conformity is being a robot, live outside the box, and live out-loud.