Conformity sounds like an innocent enough word, doesn’t it? It brings up thoughts of agreement, cooperation, team effort, and shared values for some. Fortunately, we live in a time when diverse identities, experiences, and cultures are just beginning to be seen as perhaps a good thing. Of course many don’t agree, but I am still hopeful we’re moving in that direction.
For some of us, it’s hard to thrive as our unique, authentic selves. Before we can share them, there are obstacles to overcome first. If you are an autistic person, it might be incredibly hard to relax and be yourself around others. You may struggle just to get through a social gathering without feeling overwhelmed, yet it might be something you wish very much that you could do.
If you’re a gay 16 year old, it might feel true for you that you have to stay in the closet to be accepted by your parents, just at a time when you want to begin your life’s path as the person you really are. The suspicion that love in your family is conditional, dependent on a straight identity, can be devastating as it encroaches on your reality.
If you’ve experienced abuse or neglect, you may feel a secret shame that wouldn’t allow you to identify with people that haven’t lived through abuse. Maybe you feel stuck in a perspective of life that can never allow for the hope of being part of a healthy circle of friends.
Traits and experiences in life can set us up for more than our share of pain. Anxiety and depression can become long-term companions if we can’t figure out how to come out from underneath the shadow of what is causing it. And the longer that pain stays with us, the longer our gifts stay hidden, and the more likely they are to remain there.
In my work, I get to see really awesome strengths, quirks, eccentricities, and gifts emerge when people do the work of healing the wounds they’ve been suffering from. And then the goal becomes finding their people, the ones that love who they really are, so that they can celebrate the true uniqueness in each other.
I am a person of contradictions myself. I seem to many to be a soft-hearted, traditional woman. But those that know me will tell you I am a non-conforming person, and that I very much value authentic identities, and diverse communities, not to mention music festivals, genealogy, and nearly anything from the art nouveau era. And I do believe that for us to become who we really are, fully self-realized, is so much more important than conformity.
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the State of Minnesota
- M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Stout
- B.S. in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
- Minnesota Association of Marriage and Family Therapists