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Remember those times in class when the teacher has asked a question and the answer in mind is surely correct, yet when you look around the majority have chosen an option completely opposite? What about the time your friends pressured you into stealing that shirt or CD or involving in mocking little Johnny because he was a geek ? At the time there was no problems. As a part of the group you felt confident, secure and like so cool .

But when you found that your answer was actually the correct one or were caught with the items in your bag or punished for taunting Little Johnny, do you remember your cowardice reason for acting as you did? The vast majority of people will recall saying, Everybody is doing it a sentence that is one of the worst four-word combinations in the English language.

(Acknowledge/greet audience)

Conformity involves the changing of one s attitudes, opinions, or behaviours to match those of the norms . The norms , established by society, are what we should or ought to be thinking, feeling, or doing if we wish to be accepted into a group. This desire to be accepted and belong to a group is an undeniable human need.

When faced with a challenging or trivial task, there are two common ways of handling the situation. One is to do sol vas according to one s own personal desires and belief with no specific regard to other people. The other is to base the decision on the how others will view and respond to it. The most of us would probably fall on the side of the latter and gladly trail on the paths of conformity. There are various reasons for conforming and these are evident in many daily human actions.

The main reason being the guarantee that you will never be left alone. It is so often that people commit sinister acts, then when accused, they sheepishly retreat into the numbers of those involved. It is this unquestionable human fear and weakness of solitude that drives people to shelter in the shadows of conformity. Another is to avoid conflict or tension with others, especially if the person or party is with high authority as they also have the ability to punish. On many occasions has there been disagreements to certain rules or policies, yet conformity has pressured them into being unquestioned and just accepted.

Conformity is continually demonstrated and seen, especially amongst adolescents. For example amongst this audience. I m not sure that everyone was listening to me speak or even still awake for that matter. However, once I stop talking, someone will initiate applause and the rest will follow. If I asked all of you individually what the speech was about could my questions be answered? Most unlikely. Then why were you applauding? Probably not because of the quality of the speech but because it is just the norm to applause on conclusion (or possibly just a sign of relief that its over *smirk*).

It is true that this decision to go against social conduct brings about certain hardships however it also has one obvious advantage. That is people are able are able to see you for the first time. The real You, which is usually masked by societal influence. They will see our talents, imperfections, and preferences and choose to accept us on our own terms. There is no need to persevere in lying to yourself just to be accepted by others. Those who deny your companionship is unworthy of it and can be easily be replaced.

Many allow themselves to sink into the seas of conformity but the strong fight to float above the rest and be an individual. The very few that can call themselves true individuals are those willing to be misunderstood and mocked by others. The greatest leaders in history have surfaced ideas that caused much controversy, yet today are praised for their bravery to bring about change. Martin Luther King is a prime example of one that questioned the norms of society during his time and has brought significant improvement to the lives of the African Americans.

With every criticism of conformity and emphasis on individuality I ve mentioned, you re all probably mentally labeling me as the greatest hypocrite. However, trust that those times reciting this speech in front of the mirror was not only for practice but a self-given pep talk. I am not implying that you become the next Luther King or sacrifice your life for your cause, but just to realise that the majority are not always politically or morally correct and are not a shield against the consequences of wrongful acts. Conformity may at times prove to be an answer but not always the best one. As Ghandi once said, A No uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a Yes merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble .

There are moments when it is best to conform however in many situations also you stand to gain more by being yourself. Many people have asked me how I would like to be remembered after I die. Like most people you probably formulated an image of great wealth and popularity. But after dwelling on the question I formed an answer more satisfying. When someone asks me how I wish to be remembered I would simply answer, just that! Me! an unmasked, unchanged and uninfluenced version of me.


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