How do you recognize a non-conformist? Do they just tell you they’re one, or do you have to come to this conclusion yourself?
It’s mostly the latter, isn’t it? You have to notice how they behave because non-conformists come from diverse backgrounds and pursue a wide range of interests.
Still, they share a common thread of prioritizing personal authenticity and individual expression over societal expectations.
From Muhammad Ali and Hunter S. Thompson to Amelia Earhart and Malala Yousafzai, history is filled with people who chose their own ways instead of succumbing to society.
So, let’s find out what behaviors clearly reveal someone is a non-conformist.
1) They’re genuine
Authenticity is key for non-conformists. They’re always trying to be genuine in their interactions, relationships, and self-expression.
They do this to avoid pretense and stay true to their values, even if it means embracing vulnerability.
And, the truth is, you have to have a thick skin to be a non-conformist. Most people can’t stand them and will not only inquisite them but also try to force them to change their opinions.
Still, staying true to themselves, non-conformists opt for authenticity over meeting societal expectations.
Whether it’s in career choices, relationships, or personal development, they prioritize staying true to themselves instead of adhering to external pressures.
2) Resisting peer pressure is second nature
So, yeah, another clue that a person is a non-conformist is if they don’t succumb to societal pressures or peer influence easily.
They’re comfortable in their own skin, making choices based on personal convictions instead of bowing to the expectations of those around them.
And, let’s be frank here. Pressure and expectations start from a very early age, don’t they? Parents, teachers, friends – they all have certain expectations of us and how we should behave.
When I was a teen, anyone who stood out was immediately pressured to be the same as everyone else.
It was the equivalent of crabs pulling other crabs back down. Those who were trying to escape from the bucket were put back in line with others very quickly and efficiently. It’s the so-called crab mentality.
3) They don’t blindly follow trends and traditional norms
And because they have their own mind and aren’t swayed easily, non-conformists don’t jump on the latest bandwagon just because everyone else is.
They prefer doing their own thing, steering clear of popular trends that aren’t close to their personal values or interests.
I know non-conformists who never had a social media account and reverted back to dummy phones after using smartphones for a while. They just don’t see the appeal in any of this, and they’re not even old.
Traditional norms? Also not really for them.
Whether it’s in lifestyle choices or career paths, non-conformists don’t feel compelled to follow the standard life script and often find alternative routes that better align with their unique aspirations.
4) They don’t align with mainstream ideologies
Non-conformists also don’t necessarily subscribe to mainstream ideologies. They’re open to exploring different perspectives and choose paths that split from the commonly accepted beliefs or norms prevalent in society.
For example, many are minimalists and don’t bow down to materialism or capitalism.
They intentionally simplify their possessions and focus on experiences instead of things, which goes against the consumerist values shoved down our throats by mainstream culture all the time.
5) Rules? They often choose to bend or break them
We all follow the rules, arguably as much as we can, right? But, conventional rules and norms aren’t set in stone for non-conformists.
In fact, they’re more likely to bend or even break them when they feel they don’t match their individuality and beliefs.
So, for example, a non-conformist entrepreneur defies traditional business models, challenges hierarchical structures, or implements innovative methods that go against established norms.
They often start in a big company but then quit and do their own thing once they see what a meat grinder these companies actually are. In a big system, there’s no room for individuality.
But, whereas many entrepreneurs fake it till they make it, non-conformists sincerely grind their way to success.
And yes, all non-conformists aren’t some secluded weirdos barking against the government, “them,” or “the cabal.”
Many are trying to go through life just like everyone else and make something out of themselves.
6) Originality shines through in their ideas and actions
We all think we’re so original, but that’s not exactly true, is it? Just sit on your town’s square and see how many people walk by dressed almost the same.
It’s incredible how easily influenced we get by social media, TV, our peers, etc.
Still, non-conformists thrive on originality. They bring a fresh perspective to the table, whether it’s through innovative ideas, creative pursuits, or unconventional approaches to problem-solving.
They stand out from the crowd with their distinctive flair.
Just look at whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. They didn’t want to conform to the government and paid dearly for what they did.
Non-conformists like them value individual expression over fitting in.
They prioritize their unique identity, personal style, creative endeavors, or unconventional choices that set them apart.
7) They solve problems in unconventional ways
I briefly mentioned solving problems. You see, when faced with challenges, non-conformists don’t resort to standard solutions.
They embrace unconventional approaches. They stop to think outside the box to find creative and unique ways to tackle problems, often leading to innovative outcomes.
I could mention Musk or Jobs here, but a far better example is James Dyson. He is a real inventor (unlike the other two) and a non-conformist who challenged the status quo in the vacuum cleaner industry, resulting in a range of successful and innovative household products.
He made people desire his vacuum cleaners and other products. Can you say that about other companies in this space? Hardly.
He also first solved a real problem (messy, unsustainable, and unhealthy bags) and, on top of that, made the products look sexy and desirable.
8) They express unique views, even if they’re unpopular
Non-conformists aren’t afraid to voice opinions that might go against the mainstream. I come from a small town, and almost 15 years ago, I became a vegetarian at first and then a vegan.
In my community, that was unheard of, and I was always the only one wherever I went. Needless to say, I had a spotlight on me almost whenever I sat down to eat something.
And not even then. For some reason, that became my defining feature, although I never spoke about it if not asked.
So, although I’m also a non-conformist some of the time, I know how much true non-conformists value expressing their authentic perspective, even if it means going against popular sentiment.
People are simply so intrigued by your persona that you’re almost effortlessly opening other people’s eyes to alternatives.
9) They’re open-minded and willing to challenge the status quo
If we’ve learned anything by now, it’s that non-conformists are freethinkers and approach life with an open mind.
They see change and progress as essential components of personal growth and as a way forward as a society.
So, for example, a non-conformist would perhaps create DIY solutions to common problems, challenging the need for mass-produced goods and embracing a more sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle.
Or they would start a business with a focus on addressing social or environmental issues without seeking profits at all costs.
We hear about businesses like that all the time, but unfortunately, they’re small-scale, and there should be even more of them to make more impact.
In a way, they should become capitalists to save the world.
10) They’re unpredictable in their choices and lifestyle
How comfortable are you with not knowing when your next paycheck will be? Or what about traveling around, not knowing where you’ll be in a couple of months?
Doesn’t sound that appealing, does it?
But many non-conformists embrace unpredictability. Their choices and lifestyle often don’t follow a predictable or conventional trajectory. They’re freelancers, or they wing it.
Unlike the rest of us, they find excitement and fulfillment in the unexpected. And that’s why many are digital nomads living lives on their own terms.
They live outside their local community and move on after a few days, weeks, or months. It turns out that, without a physical anchor in your life, you often get rid of the mental one as well.
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