The Problem With Conformity

When I was growing up I was taught to be polite, quiet, well-groomed, trim, and above all obedient. You can only imagine the areas of conflict I had with these culturally defined “feminine” qualities, especially since I was a known tomboy, with a well developed stubborn streak. Not much has changed but at least I own it.

My parents were wonderful people, but it was the 60’s, and they were not fans of the counter-cultural revolution happening on the fringes of society. I’m pretty sure I never heard the word “sex” via my parents’ lips unless it was associated with gender. They avoided the entire movement by moving our little family to the suburbs and went about raising Nancy and I with the qualities they understood to be of value.

I get it. I did the same with my children.

And now with my own granddaughters, I have to bite my tongue not to remark on their cute noses, sweet faces, soft curls, and adorable dresses, as opposed to their achievements. This tendency to compliment girls for their looks seems to be deeply ingrained in not only me but our society in general. When I raised my boys I rarely considered their looks. It was all about accomplishment, attitude, ingenuity (an excuse to allow for/praise mischievous behavior). We raise our girls to conform to impossible standards. So what’s the problem you might ask?

We believe that civilization has been created under the pressure of the exigencies of life at the cost of satisfaction of the instincts. Sigmund Freud

What happened is I learned to value meaningless things and as a result, I did a lousy job of valuing myself. In fact, my self-awareness was so out of kilter I didn’t really understand who I was or what I wanted until much later in life. I accepted the reality in which I was raised. No questions asked. And now these standards are so deeply embedded in my psyche I’m afraid I will always be susceptible to there influence. At the very least I’m aware of these Freudian tendencies when they bubble up and I start berating myself for being me.

Something else to consider is that when you talk about a problem, you’re watering its roots. The problem just gets stronger and more pervasive!

Gala Darling

My natural disposition has always been loud, active, rumpled, and disobedient. The feedback loop I was subject to when young was not stellar. I truly believed if I only tried a little harder I could restrain my natural inclinations, round out those rough edges, and therefore be highly valued in a world that tended to regard females as purely ornamental. That was a total fail. Try as you might your natural inclinations will eventually surface.

It was the old square peg in the round hole conundrum. What can you do? I wanted to please, so I made kindness my linchpin and went about with this naive belief that everyone navigates life’s obstacles with similar tactics. Guess what? They do not and after much folly, I find myself in need of a new strategy.

A square, is a square, is a square until you realize fitting in is not so cool after all.

A massive and essential part of self-love is forgiveness and acceptance. So while you’re making an effort and striving to be the best person you can be, at the same time you need to recognize your own humanity. Try not to hold yourself to impeccable standards, and just do the best you can right now.

Gala Darling

I went in search of me, writing became my vehicle of choice, and slowly I discovered myself embedded in the sundry of words. It’s such a wonderful practice and I encourage everyone to partake. Keep a journal, start a blog, give poetry a try, write a memoir, a novel, or short story. It doesn’t matter, just write, do it daily, and the results will blow you away.

I want you to realize your radiance. I want you to come to terms with your innate goddess nature. I want you to figure out how goddamn fabulous you are. The universe is waiting for you to step up and live out loud!

Gala Darling

According to Gala Darling, the world is what you make and not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned bright, and your inner world is constantly being reflected back at you. Do you see the implications? Of course, you do.

And one day she discovered that she was fierce and strong, and full of fire, and not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears.

Mark Anthony

That old saying about an opportunity only knocking once is as archaic as the flat-earth theory and as patently untrue. Opportunity knocks all the time — and it rings your doorbell, calls you up and sends you e-mails says, Victoria Moran. It’s never too late! Never! You will always have the opportunity to pursue, imagine, and manifest your dreams.

Talk to yourself like you would someone you love says, Brene Brown. I tend to keep my underlying negative feelings at bay by basking in comforting thoughts. How’s that going for me? Not so well. As I approach the end of the year, how can I throw off unnecessary vices, expand my narrow horizons, and forge a new path to a better me?

What if we dedicated this time loving ourselves better? I think the solution to conformity is radical self-love. I’m sure someone’s done the research on this, but the truth is the more you love yourself, the more you are capable of loving others. Trust me, it’s not fake news.

This is my plan and you’re welcome to join me if it works for you. I’m going to get more sleep, exercise daily (emptying the dishwasher counts), stay hydrated, limit my sugars (including wine, carbs, and desserts), stay teachable, keep in touch with friends, remove clutter from my home, heart, mind, sprinkle the world with kindness, evolve, refuse to respond to negativity, spend quality time with the people I love, laugh as loud as I want, forgive myself, and lean so far over the rail (Bob Goffism) that I fall for life all over again. As Brian Krans says, “get your gloves on, it’s time for rebirth.”

You are worthy. You are capable. You are beautiful. Book the ticket. Write the book. Create a dream. Celebrate yourself. Rule the queendom.

Elyse Santilli

I’m Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, well talk about our Freudian tendencies.


  • No one is you and that is your superpower. Elyse Santilli
  • She remembered who she was and the game changed. Lalah Deliah
  • If youth knew if age could. Sigmund Freud

Previously published on

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