I Refuse to Conform
Updated: May 19
Happy Thanksgiving. I couldn’t think of any fun Thanksgiving themed topics, so I’ve written this blog instead. Besides, sometimes you need a break from the hoopla and the family . . .
and the expectations.
In our orderly industrialized society, it is easiest to put everyone in the same little box. The assembly line forces conformity. I can’t tell you the number of times my son has had to scrape the cheese off of his hamburger because we left the drive-thru without checking the order.
No one wants to be a carbon copy of their neighbor. My daughter lives in a row house in Philadelphia, where all the homes look alike, for blocks . . . and blocks . . . and blocks. They go on forever on streets that are so narrow, it is hard to take a photograph. Don’t get me wrong, her apartment is lovely. It might be called a townhome in the west.
The easiest way for people to express their individuality is to decorate their doors. Red doors. Purple doors. Green doors.
Wreaths are popular way for city folks to express individuality.
My visit turned into a door hunt, like a scavenger hunt in search of the most interesting door. Luckily no one came out of their home to accuse me of being a stalker.
Porch gardens and planter boxes provide variety in an otherwise uniform world.
This reminded me of a time when I was an expert witness at a federal hearing in Washington, D.C. Back in my financial analyst days. Each morning before going on record, Judge Silverstein held a necktie contest for the men. He would select the most unique tie and, at his sole discretion, declare a winner.
The judge told me that men expressed their individuality in the courtroom through their tie choices. Suits are a kind of uniform. Women have more options of color, style, and accessories.
Some of the men tried to win, bringing their craziest Father’s Day gifts to the hearing. Others simply wore the tie their wife packed in their suitcase.
One morning, an attorney from California wore a yellow submarine tie. Judge Silverstein said he would win if he sang Yellow Submarine. He started singing and everyone in the courtroom joined in.
I’ve heard that the young men express themselves through crazy socks. Here is a picture of my son-in-law with his goomsmen at my daughter’s wedding. And this is one of the formal wedding photos! All of their suits matched when they stood up at the ceremony, but they were very proud of the socks.
Wouldn’t life be dull if we all conformed? We may all come off the same assembly line, like black-and-white photos. But our uniqueness allows our color to pop.
At Thanksgiving when your relatives make you a little crazy with their odd habits and unusual food preferences, remember to be thankful for non-conformity. I guess I touched on the holiday theme after all.
As for me, I’ll find ways to stand out, whether intentional or not.