The Addiction of Conforming

The creative urge, The Inspired Life


A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.
~Abraham Maslow


During my hairdresser days, I had a continuing conversation with some clients that went something like this.

CLIENT: I want something new and different. Something really exciting. I’m bored with my hair. It always looks the same.

ME: OK, let’s see, you always wear your hair straight and brown and shoulder length, how about we bring it up around chin level, right at the base of the neck, put in some long layers to give it some bounce and add in some highlights to brighten it up. That will be very different and will frame your face and the highlights will bring out the color of your eyes.

CLIENT: Oh no, I couldn’t cut my hair short. It has to stay long. And…I don’t know about layers, none of my friends have layers, I wouldn’t know how to take care of them. Highlights…that’s too radical. I’m too scared. How about a trim instead.

Uhuh…no change for her…

Change is difficult for a lot of people. Daring to be different than everyone else is difficult. Standing up for your beliefs in a crowd of people who believe differently than you is very difficult. And not so politically correct depending on who you are, where you are and what the circumstances are in today’s society. We are getting used to quietly slinking away. Taking our thoughts and ideas and beliefs and going home. We get on the computer and share with strangers behind screens instead. It feels safer. We aren’t as exposed. We can control our exposure. Say what we want them to hear.

Except its boring. We live in a lukewarm world with everyone conforming to the sameness of corporate structure. We create matching neighborhoods, strip-malls and towns and duplicate them all over the country, and follow society’s rules, passing the time with idle chatter. We say nothing of value at all for fear that we will offend. It is a mindless, weary, aging way to waste an existence.

Conformity is dangerous. It’s addictive. It sneaks up on you.

One day you were young and full of dreams and plans and hopes and ideals and then little by little someone whispered in your ear “Psst…that’s not what we DO here. WE don’t wear purple boots, we wear brown shoes” So off you went to the brown shoe store. Then another day it was “Psst…We don’t believe in that anymore…” and away went the dreams, the hopes and the plans until you forgot that you had been dreaming…The next thing you know you are all decked out in your beiges and browns with your safe hair cut and all purpose shoes. One day blended in to the next and before you know it there is a school reunion notice showing up at the door.

Where did it go? Where did YOU go? Well, take a deep look. You are in there. Sandwiched somewhere between the serving others and making sure they are OK and working to make ends meet. If you made it a point to let go of all the unconscious conforming for others and really woke up and paid attention to your OWN needs, hopes, and desires, what would they be?  Do you know? Has it been a long time since you have dug down deep and asked yourself-do I want this for ME or do I want this because I THINK its what I OUGHT to do.

Our true selves never really go away. They lie in wait for the day when they get a turn. A turn to be set free and live the life that THEY were created for. Each one of us has a special gift, a destiny to unfold, a dream to bring to life if we will take the time to discover it and then pull it out and make it happen.

Shine a light on it. Be unique, take a chance, dare to be different, authentic, one of a kind. Be interesting. Bring a little color into an otherwise gray world.

Crystal at BigBrightBulb has sent out a mission for all of us to share our dreams and goals. I have many. Lots of family ones, one I joke about with my best friend Jackie K. where we talk about ending up as two old ladies living on a beach somewhere warm selling artwork to the beachcombers as they go by.  Of course, now that I am happily married, that dream is evolving. That’s OK too. Dreams do that sometimes. But when the dream is more than just a friendly daydream, when the dream is a vision of how you want your life to be, when the dream grabs you by the heart and won’t let you go, then that has become more than a dream. That dream requires ACTION. That dream now has built in the required ingredient of PASSION.

Passion is what turns dreams into action. Passion is what happens when people DON’T conform, but seek their OWN unique vision and follow their own authenticity. You will never find passion if you have a dream brought on by a should.

Ok Crystal here is mine:

My Passionate dream: To grow Life’s Little Inspirations into a website that offers books, motivational speaking, workshops, coaching, and training classes on how to work and live an inspired, profitable and happy  life.

I took my first step today. I registered my domain name. And I wrote out a huge list of everything I wanted. It was very long. I’m on my way.

What are you doing to make your passionate dreams happen?





27 thoughts on “The Addiction of Conforming

  1. This is a nice post. You wrote it so eloquently, I love it. Thanks for writing this up, it was really great to read something like this.

  2. Oh my…you addressed so many things that are relevant to me right now…I have to mull them over. I just today posted about having to WANT to change, not doing it because I think I ought to. And about going off to do some soul searching to find out what my WHY is, what is the real reason behind what I’m doing? And can I change that?

    I think you’re bang on about the passion factor: Friar and I were just discussing this in my comments. Perhaps I’m not passionate about what I’m doing. Which is a huge no-brainer, I think, and also what’s just made me just freeze in fear. SHIT. Does this mean it’s not what I should be doing? Or does it simply mean I can still do what I’m doing (freelance editing) but simply change the type of jobs?

    So much more to be said here, but I’ll skip it for now. I’m just amazed at how all this is culminating on various sites. We’re coming together on the same sorts of topics, which is quite exciting!

    Thanks for this great post!

  3. Wendi,

    Purple suede boots. Brilliant, royal purple. Yes, I did own them. I think they’re probably still in a box somewhere. Have you been in my closet?

    Hair: I go in to my hairdresser, and I tell her when she wants to redo the look of her store or her website, ready to pull in more customers, she’s going to call in a specialist. That would be me. When I want my hair done I’m going to call in a specialist. That would be her. I am completely hair-lexic and I never even pay attention to what she’s doing. If I walk out and it’s not in my eyes and it looks great I’m happy. I’m a shortish summery blonde right now because she knows what looks right. I never try to tell her her business, and I LOVE change. (She tells me stories just like yours, of folks who are eager for and terrified of change. Hair as a metaphor for life. Who knew?)

    Your passionate dream is super and the actions you’re taking are great! Nothing like shelling out a small amount of dough to tell you there’s no turning back. Good for you! Rah, rah!!



  4. Hi Wendi,

    A hairdresser! No way! You wore a lot of hats in this lifetime! That is great training for a writer. And a real estate agent, too. Think of all that gold you can mine…

    Yes, I was telling Brett that I wanted to be the best writer and photographer I’m capable of being. I need to do that for myself and not sell myself short. I also need to be a good mom, too. That’s important. I find it’s all interrelated.

    I find that it’s good to just sit and dream. You know? Just let stuff come to me. I get a lot of ideas that way and it frees my mind of clutter.

    I’m actually thinking of getting a perm, but they are so expensive. I usually throw my hair up in a clip so I don’t have to think about it. When I was young I used to set it in hot rollers every morning. God! Can you imagine?

  5. The authenticity of who you were born to be is cooler, hotter and far more appreciated then the image you could ever try to maintain. 🙂

  6. Ellen, I saw that sign hanging on a post in San Fransico while on vacation a few weeks ago. I HAD to take a picture. I knew there was something to say about that. I’ve been mulling it over ever since.
    I love your photagrahy. You and Amy inspire me all the time and have me dragging my camera out always. Unfortunetly, Iknow next to nothing about photagraphy except aoto focus and its not digital either. I am trying to learn as much as I can from both of you. Don’t ever quit!
    HAIR…0ver twenty years…shaking head…I barely comb mine now! Between being a hairdresser for 20 years and then going into Real Estate ( which made me a GREAT Realtor because I knew how to listen to people’s needs and wants) I mastered a lot of people skills and learned a lot about people. Besides, People will tell their hairdressers and Realtors things they will never tell their friends, family or shrinks. We know how to keep a secret. 🙂

  7. Kelly,
    Get those boots out of the closet girl! I own mine AND I WEAR them! Heck YEA!
    Yeah..the money is spent..there is no going back now. ONWARD….MARCH. Time for the CAN, WILL & BELIEVE CLUB!

  8. Steph, I was at you blog this morning looking at your beautiful house. Stayed to send strong prayers and thoughts and it and forgot to leave a message. Just went back and did it. Glad you are here. Yes…Passion is the magic ingredient. Passion kept my feet going for 26.2 miles with a broken back. ( It sure wasn’t common sense!) Passion helped me build two successful businesses before this one and will help me do it again. Passion is what makes it happen.

  9. Ismsarebad
    Thank you for your kind words.I am so glad you are here. Please…come often. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and being part of our community.

  10. My dream is to become a gymnast known throughout the country, or maybe even the world! I’m in a gymnastic class now, going 4 days a week. I have alot of work to do, espesially if I want to make it to the olympics someday!

    ———Wendi Kelly’s daughter, Lizzie Z.

  11. Hi Wendi,

    This is what I love about your blog. You get us all thinking about what we want to do with the rest of our lives. And you get us thinking about when we were little and played in the dirt. Often it’s what we loved to do as a child that comes back to haunt us as adults.

    I used to love to write (long hand -penmanship was my favorite class), and now I blog, and love it still. I think it’s meant to be.

  12. Lizzie,
    Any dream that you are passionate about, are willing to put in the time, focus, hard work and energy into, you have a huge shot at making happen. Go for it. The Family supports you 100%. Besides, you have a lot of talent too. There are a lot of talented people doing nothing. But Passion, focus and talent combined …baby..with that…you can run the world! And you are a nice person! What more can we ask for!
    Love Mom.

  13. Barbara, I don’t doubt it. You are a vessel of change and light. You are making a difference in people’s lives every day. That is a gift. A precious one. Onward. 🙂

  14. that post really hits home, I wish I could find my passion. Not sure if I ever had it or if it’s hiding somewhere really good!

    You are awesome, I love that about you.

  15. Change can be hard, and conformity can be reassuring. But that doesn’t mean we should not change, or that we shouldn’t be non-conformists. These are great points you bring up, and it makes me really question what I am doing, why I’m doing what I’m doing, and what is holding me back from being who I want to be. This is very insightful, on the one hand, and very difficult on the other. It’s insightful, in that the wisdom here is so true and can lead to the life we want and desire. On the other hand, it can be difficult to face your fears, go out on a limb, and make yourself vulnerable. In the end, though, that is what will lead us to the life we want.
    You’ve given me a lot to think about, and I thank you for that.

  16. Jenny,

    Knowing you personally as well as I do, I know that you spend a lot of time focused on other people’s needs because you are such an amazing caretaker to everyone you know. Just part of your wonderful loving nature. Spend some time peeling back the layers and think about what would be important to you if you had no one to take care of, worry about or answer to. No one to say…I wonder what they would think of me if I did that… what would your life be like then?

    What are you thinking in the quiet times when you are thinking if people only knew I think about this stuff? What are THOSE dreams?

  17. excellent as always Wendi!

    sometimes I long to be just one of the masses, be normal, a joe schmo, but then it passes!

    I’m a pretty good example of non-conformity in that I don’t pigeon-hole myself with one style of art, one day it’s a landscape in oil paints the next it’s a psychedelic digital painting (to use a recent example). The art world encourages conformity, encourages you to chose a team and stay on it, encourages you to put a lable on yourself like “I am an impressionist”, I say that people should embrace their multi-faceted selves, be many things at once. It’s the combination of all those facets that makes a unique self even if some of the facets are similar to other peoples!

  18. Glad to hear that Lizzie has such a dream….dreaming is for young peoole who still have something to give without having the responsibilities of adulthood, parenthood,
    marriage, etc.

    And only the few find partners who are willing to let them follow a dream as an adult.
    They are blessed indeed.

    And Jenny, maybe caregiving is your passion, why you are so good at it. But any passion can become an addiction if not tempered. I wish I could help you find what it is that you need to feel passionate about. But it would just be the blind leading the blind…keep looking. You still have time.

  19. The price of NOT triangulating on the aggridant within is psychological death, or at least morbid anomie. This is the neurosis of our time. See Maslow’s metapathologies.

  20. Digging deep for what you really want is so possible. I too am gathering my thoughts and forming ideas to make more user friendly — with resources and tools people can use to better their lives. It seems we are on a similar path. I was just thinking about when you were going to branch out and offer more services. I love your blog. Congratulations on your new path. Cheers. Sherita

  21. Wendi, I’m looking forward to watching you make your dream for Life’s Little Inspirations come true! I can’t wait! One thing I’m doing right now to make my own dreams come true is actively try to become a better fiction writer. Another thing is working on a makeover for my business. I’d like to have some results for both of those dreams by the end of this year. And then of course, there are plenty more stars I’d like to reach for after that 😉

  22. Melissa,

    I am very excited. Me too, me too on the fiction writing. Can’you feel it getting better right under your finger tips? I can’t believe how fast it’s changing just to have some others to work with and not writing all alone in isolation. Especially in dilalogue and charactor development. I think for me mostly in dialogue, because it feels natural to have someone respond when you weren’t quite sure what they were going to say. It keeps MY charactor more spontaneous. Now if I can carry that over when I am writing all of the charactors that remains to be seen but it is a good lesson not to try to control everything.

    Who ME?? be controlling? Why I NEVER!!!!

  23. Sherita, thank you for your support, it means a lot. Good luck with your too, it sounds like we will be traveling this road togther. Let me know if you need any help, I know some great people who will be helping me and I will gladly pass along their names.

    IbeIrish, Thank, I will pass on your good wishes to Lizzie. You arer so right that when you have a life partner who supports you in your dreams you are very blessed. I am one of the lucky ones and I appreciate that and I am very grateful. I am blessed.


    Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I would respond if I could figure out what you said. I would love for you to explain it further and enlighten us more clearly 🙂

  24. It takes guts to publicly state your deepest dream. I admire that. It’s also one of the smartest things you can do in terms of motivation and goal-setting. I admire that as well. I agree with the idea that “you” is always there.

    But it’s also good to remember that “you” can change and grow. At least that’s what I go by. After all, when I was a kid, I wanted to create a hit song out of baby talk. I don’t really want to do that anymore… 🙂

  25. Way to go Wendi! What a great post and so excited that you’re excited, and that you’ve got it all started.

    And sorry that I’m just now responding, Google just now told me this was here 😛

    Looking forward to more wonderful Wendi things!

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