Trying to Fit In? Here’s Why Deviance is Almost Always Better Than Conformity

By: Malak Hatem

Have you ever heard the phrase “only dead fish swim with the stream”? If you haven’t, this is your lucky day because this is one of my favorite quotes and I can probably spend all day telling you about it. But now that I’ve thought about this for a second, we don’t have all day so just let me tell you briefly

The first time I came across this quote it was in one of the first books I ever finished, I was around 10 or 11 years old back then. The book is called The Rules of Life, by Richard Templar. It had a bunch of quotes, divided into chapters and with every quote included in the lines of the book, Templar would tell us a little bit about why this quote was essential and would be extremely beneficial if one decided to live by. 

And when he came to rule number 10 in the first section of the book Rules for you, “only dead fish swim with the stream”, he explained that life is nothing but a series of struggles. Which takes us directly to my next most favorite quote: “you’d never know happiness without a little pain”. Some of you might not agree with me on this, but Templar and I strongly believe in this quote. We both see struggles as an important aspect of life, of our experiences. We both think that without the hardships we face, life would only be filled with good, happy moments and while there’s nothing wrong with a happy life, at some point we’re all bound get bored. We also both believe that struggles make us who we are, they keep us going, they help us evolve and most importantly, struggles always keep us on our toes. He refers to this statistic that says that most men die shortly after retiring because they simply stopped swimming against the current and just gave in. 

What I want to say is that deviance is not a bad thing at all and it’s not something to fear also. We’ve all got unique properties that make us who we are, that distinguish us from the crowd we live amongst and that help us shine and rise through the ranks. Accepting those traits is what makes us mavericks. And despite what most of us were raised to believe, being in the spotlight and living your life on the edge will not do you as much harm as you think. 

I have lived on the sidelines and I have been in the spotlight. I mean, granted, I was only in the spotlight for countable moments throughout my life but those very few moments were the most memorable and the most exhilarating. These moments were also the only moments where I was truly and confidently proud of myself. 

Fitting in should never be among our concerns, if anything, it should be the last thing on our minds and we should in fact look for ways to make people remember us. Because other than doing so for the sake of breaking the social norms and “not living it in the middle”, defying the system and living our lives however we want no matter how scary it can get, will be one of the most courageous things we will ever do in our lives. It will help us walk taller and we’ll get to live our whole lives telling people about it.

You should never have to take crap from people just because you do things differently. And you shouldn’t have to dumb yourself down or dim your lights because there are people out there who are uncomfortable with how bright you illuminate.

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