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Conformity and Individuality

As human beings our lives are centered around the thin blue line that separates conformity and individuality. Many times we are confused and rushed, and we draw this line too short or too long, thus being too much of a conformist or an individual.

Conformity is essential to life. Humans, being complex animals, live in a society that functions as a whole. If there is a mistake, the entire system may crumble. So, we are obligated to pay taxes and respect the law so that we can stay together as a whole.

Conformity is perfectly natural. Abraham Maslow's hierarchy theory shows acceptance as one of man's most important goals in life. We naturally want to belong to something bigger. We naturally want to be accepted by others. However, in modern terms this acceptance can only be obtained by going further than natural conformity and stepping - rather leaping - into popular conformity. At that certain stage we tend to follow the same trends in style and personal taste, whether it be music, movies, or even morals.

Conformity is also some sort of a psychological shelter. If we do not know what to do and are scared, we naturally follow the steps of others so that we may eventually find a group to take shelter in. Conformity is, in a sense, the remedy for isolation.

Individuality, like conformity, is essential to life even though modern man may not appreciate its value. At one point we want to be different from all the rest in one way or another. So we might dress a bit differently and choose to do things we really like. And, for once, we might form our opinions based on what we really feel. However, sooner or later we are forced to curb our spontaneous desires so that society does not label us as eccentric or weird, simply because we fear being alone.

Modern life is confusing, so sometimes our vision is blurred and our choices, made in the midst of confusion, may force us in extreme directions of either conformity or individuality. We may follow everyone in everything we do, or we may so much of an individual that we become hermits.

In conclusion, conformity may dominate our lives, but there is always the chance to make a mark, to become more of an individual than a clone. Losing one's individuality and one's own mind is like dying. You are no longer yourself.

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Copyright (c) 1998 by Gemma Truman
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After writing this essay for French IV my teacher took notice in the improvement in my essays, which were the same since my freshman year. The difference? Making outlines, writing like I would write in any other subject, creating skeleton drafts in English and then rewriting them in French, and, most importantly, outside resources. Take note. :)