Saturday, August 17, 2019

Non-conformists unite with their art

As much as I've tried to conform to, uh, anything, I realize that I'm a non-conformist by nature. In the fabric of myself, I understand that being different, not conforming, is a positive thing. I am me, and that's how it is.

Heck, back in the '90s, glorious Arby's had the slogan "Different is good." If that phrase works for a fast-food restaurant of roast beef and horsey sauce, then it works for me. Nowadays, I am unsure what to make of Arby's new motto: "We have the meats!"

Whatever the case, I responded to Chris Guillebeau's The Art of Non-Conformity (2010) because the book gave me license to embrace my non-conformist ways and open my eyes more to unspoken assumptions that are made all of the time.

One major point to Guillebeau's book is that we should embrace life as a constant adventure. I couldn't agree more, and the book helped me see that we have a lot of power to live the adventure of our choosing.

As a Gen Xer growing up, I had it in my mind that I was supposed to go to college, then make a living ASAP. I did that. Was that really my best life in my 20s?

The good news is that I was a newspaper journalist, and adventure is a part of that gig. However, I had it in my mind that I needed to have a steady job, health insurance and do something that others would see as "respectable." All of those notions might have limited me.
Guillebeau has traveled to all 193 countries in the world. He appears to be living the life of his choosing, and I'm inspired by that. I wonder how many people actually live the life they want. Instead, I bet they often live the life they think they should, or they live the life they think their parents want.

Guillebeau promotes radical goal setting, and I like that — within reason. Too often people shoot too low with their goals, and while modesty can be a good trait, it sometimes kills risk-taking and hinders success. If a risk weren't taken with a goal, is it really a success?

Over the past few years, Guillebeau has focused on creative self-employment. He has another book coming out soon called 100 Side Hustles, and it focuses on creative ways to make money while keeping your day job.

I wonder how many of us are conformists vs. non-conformists. What do we strive for? I've dabbled in conformity, now and again, and it just feels forced. I must say it was freeing for me to accept the fact that in many ways, I am hindered by my non-conformist ways. Or am I freed?


  1. In my view, you did the right thing, Joe.
    You accepted being a responsible parent and were a hands-on father, seeing your daughters and caring for them as much as possible. Is that conformity?
    No, that is doing the right thing.
    Love, Mom
    Be proud of that. Love, Mom

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