A Reflection On Living One Day As A Nonconformist

Much of the way in which we behave is determined by social norms. Everywhere we go, we have the constant pressure from society to act and behave a certain way, which I believe is useful in the sense of keeping society in order and preventing chaos. The term nonconformity is the occurrence of a condition in which one doesn’t give into the normative standards of society. Those who are nonconformists, display the refusal to comply with a society's standard for normal attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs. Furthermore, these individuals don’t abide to the established set of rules and values of society because they have a different set of standards, and a different perception of the world, which fails to accept the general population’s point of view. I can say that in my day to day life, I generally conform to the societal norms, whether it is appearance or my actions, I don’t like bringing unneeded attention to myself. Although, there are times when I do things my own way, I am still used to following the norms, which is in my comfort zone. However, the day of nonconformity spiked my curiosity and made me think of this as an opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone.

The day before the Day of Nonconformity, which I chose to be on October 12th, I decided my nonconformist behavior would be temporarily dying my hair purple. For my entire life, the color of my hair has always been brown. So, for a while I wanted to change it, and decided this would be the time to do so, and it would make the day more interesting. During this process, I was curious to see if it would change the way people viewed me and how they acted towards me. Although, it is not easy to admit, I am someone who care about how others perceive me.

Once it was Oct 12th, I found it difficult to begin my day as a nonconformist. As I was walking to my car, I began to feel extremely self-conscious when I waived to my neighbor, and she just stared back at me in disbelief, which made me feel hesitant to participate in the activity at all. It then registered to me that this was just the beginning, and what I was doing was going to receive a lot of attention from the people around me. However, my curiosity of how other people would react to my different color hair kept me motivated to continue on with my day. As I entered Dunkin Donuts to get my vanilla coffee, I found it fascinating to observe the reactions of people around me which ranged from clueless to disgusted. Some people just stared blankly, and others which were more vocal, were children which often said things to their parents such as 'look at her hair”' or “I want my hair to look like that”, which resulted in worried and annoyed looks from the parents. I then went to the bookstore, where I decided to see if the behavior of others would change in any way if I were to smile at anyone who noticed my hair. Although, I was hoping for a different response, I still received many disapproving looks, specifically from a group of elderly women, where I made the attribution that they must have thought I was a rebellious teenager. I usually try to walk my dog as much as possible throughout the week, so I took my dog to the dog park where people usually come over to talk to me by asking questions about my dog, but with my new hair, everyone there just stared. The confused and unsettling looks on the people’s faces when they saw me were no surprise. I had expected them already. However, the embarrassment I felt in the beginning of the day began to lessen. So, I wanted to see if there would be a difference in the behavior of others towards me if I started up a conversation by complimenting their own dogs. What I noticed was people were a lot more hesitant and guarded, which and made me come to the conclusion that I was less approachable with an unordinary hair color. I then decided went to the mall with my friends, where they had all assumed that I was wearing a wig. As I was walking around the mall, someone who was giving out flyers for a fundraiser shouted 'hey you with the purple hair” to get my attention, which made most people in the mall turn around and again, stare at me. As the day progressed, I started to not to be phased by the several strange looks others gave me or comments I received which included “that looks so odd”. Later that day, when I was waiting on the line of Panera to order food, the cashier was mostly silent, and I had to repeat my order because she was too focused on my hair. During the day, I quickly started to associate the actions of others towards me were solely based on the color of my hair.

As this day was coming to an end, I felt an immense amount of relief knowing I could go back to my normal self. Upon changing my hair, it not only made me feel like a different person, but act like one too. Although I may never do this again, because I found this experience to be difficult and uncomfortable, it made me realize that I focus a lot of my energy on how others perceive me, and I let it negatively affect me. What I did on the day of nonconformity was a challenge for me mentally. The mental challenge had come from the feedback I received from those who conformed to societal norms. This assignment made me step out of my comfort zone while also realizing how ingrained conformity is inside our minds and how we don’t like to see things that are out of the ordinary. After reflecting upon the day, I had, I noticed during the day, I became more conscious of other people’s opinions. I was always going out of my way in hopes to get a different response from the people around me. This made me think about. how the appearance of an individual has a large influence on the way people act towards them. Throughout the day, I also noticed how much conformity there is in today’s society where people look, act, and dress a certain way. This then ends up playing a huge role in changing the way I think and how much effort I was putting into the way I look, act and dress, which further showed me how important it is for me to I have a normal looking appearance. 

16 December 2021
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