The Enemy of Non-Conformity: But…



Last week, Tom’s sponsored the event “One Day Without Shoes”.  I was quite excited about it, I wrote a whole article here about it, hyped it up on the facebook, etc.  The big day came, and I was awakened to the wind throwing fistfuls of rain against our bedroom window.

I was hoping for a bright, sunny day, I wanted to be comfortable doing something uncomfortable.  Instead, it was rainy and cold.  I sucked it up, left the house barefoot (with a pair of shoes in case I had to put shoes on at work) and went forth to go the whole day without shoes and make a difference.

I lasted 4 hours.

Later that afternoon, I was in downtown Fredericksburg and there were a group of students walking around without shoes.  They had banners and posters and were hooping and hollering, the local paper was there taking pictures.  And there I was, watching from the comfort of my clothed feet.

What was going on inside of me?  What goes on inside any of us when we watch other people break conformity.  I wanted to join in, I wanted to cast off my shoes and start raising a ruckus with them.  The desire was there, but…

And it is the “but” that kept me watching as they all walked away.  “I would join them, but I’m on the clock and I have to wear shoes”; “I would quit my job and follow my passions, but how will I make money”;  “I would ask her out, but she wouldn’t want to go out with me”; “I want to do _______, but I don’t want to be laughed at or fail.”  We are stalled by our “but” and watch whatever it is walk by or watch someone else do that very thing.

I was conversing with the usual feelings as they joined me in that moment: anxiety, insecurity, fear, and societal expectations.  The four horsemen of conformity that keeps me in check so I won’t break free.

Chris Guillebeau, author of  the book, The Art of Non-Conformitywrites this:


“All things being equal, we generally resist change until the pain of making a switch becomes less than the pain of remaining in our current situation.”


I wanted to make the switch to no shoes, but I didn’t and I was upset with myself because I didn’t; then seeing the students barefoot caused me to look at my own clothed feet; and I wanted to take my shoes off and run across the street and join them, but I didn’t because of my internal “but”, which caused me to get more upset and frustrated with myself; and my mind became a washing machine of what I wanted to do and what I was doing that swirled around and it become far less about the kids overseas without shoes and all about my internal conflicts.  Whew!

So that is how I turned a global event to raise awareness into being all about me.  It showed me where I was internally, and where I wanted to be.  Getting rid of the internal “but” is a good way to start.  A good way to do that is to remember all the times in the past I didn’t let a “but” stop me and did something unconventional.  Remembering triumphs from the past helps with struggles in the present.  Yes, it is easy for me to tell you that, but when faced with my own “but”, it’s hard to think about that.  Hmmm…there is probably a better way to put that, but you know what I mean.


[photo credit: pineapple9995]





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