I am a terrible non-conformist.
I don’t mean that I’m an inveterate or incorrible non-conformist, though that’s what I’d really love to be, but rather, I’m bad at it.
For all the punk rock on my iPod (yes, I still have one) and all my literary heroes coming primarily from either the counter-culture or genre fiction, I still feel mostly like a fraud when it comes to “being my own man”.
I grew up saying and thinking that I would not follow the path. I would not be the guy that goes to school, gets a job, gets married and settles down into misery.
I would be different.
I dropped out of two high schools and three college programs to prove it, as well.
And yet here I am.
Middle-aged, married, working shit jobs, some as a pathetic middle manager, some as wage ape, still dreaming about all the ways I could be and should be. All the ways I should be rebelling in the best possible way, not destructively, but creatively, though some tearing down is always required in the creation of something new.
It’s not been all bad. I’ve a renewed respect for family, and I met a wonderful woman I love deeply. I have two wonderful nieces and two wonderful stepkids. Our lives have some good highlights. We travel a fair deal and our family is close as can be without getting all weird and Targaryen.
Still, I feel like I’m in the mode. I’m on the path, the well-worn path that almost nobody seems happy with, but which we all seem to trip down anyway, because that’s what we’re told to do. It’s become the default.
My non-conformity dares me to be something more, but how do I do it? Do I just go for it and risk the backlash? People talk shit. It’s what people do.
But what about the rest of it? The people who are actually important to me?
What do they think? My wife would cheer me on, because she’s that kind of good, but what about friends? Other family?
Non-conformity is a risk, but a risk that can pay off huge. Breaking the mold is what everyone dreams of doing, but are either too scared to acknowledge it, and so entrench themselves in regressive dogma or don’t have enough belief in themselves to do it.
“I could never do that.”
“I’m not you.”
“You have to be a certain kind of person or have a certain situation or just be lucky to do that.”
I’ve said them all, and they aren’t true.
The trick is, how to non-conform to my conformed beliefs? How to trick my brain into being one of those people, those situations, with that luck, that can do it?
The hardest rebellion against authority is the one that rebels against your own beliefs. The dictator in your mind that tells you:
You are only this.
You cannot do that.
You do not have what it takes.
That’s where destruction comes in. All renewal comes with a price. We just have to be willing to pay it, if we want to create.
If we want to form our own path.
A cutting through the brush.
A way purely our own, that does not conform to anything, except exactly what we want in order to be happy.