In movies, TV shows, video games, and books, so much emphasis is given to characters who buck the system, those who defy expectations, and those who refuse to conform. That’s all well and good, depending on the system, the expectations, and what they’re asked to conform to. But there’s a danger in making an idol of nonconformity itself.
The standards to which the culture expects you to conform are susceptible to change as prevailing ideologies come in and out of favor.
Making a superficial change or adopting a new identity in an effort to be different (like everyone else) does not make you special or unique. God made you uniquely yourself at a soul-deep level. No one who has or will ever live is exactly the same as you.
If you want to be different, become who you are, as Pope St. John Paul II said. Be who God has called you to be.
Be the one who doesn’t cheat, even though it’s easy
and you could get away with it.
Be the one who dares to wear something different than the
flagrantly immodest attire everyone else is wearing.
Be the one that leaves the party when the Ouija board comes out.
Be the one who doesn’t listen to gossip.
Be the one who doesn’t nitpick the teacher’s every flaw.
Be the one who skips the practice that would preclude
getting to Mass on Sunday.
Be the one who prays before meals regardless of where or with whom.
Be the one who quietly makes sacrifices to offer up for those in need.
Be the one who smiles first.
The Church doesn’t need your best imitation of someone else. It doesn’t need you to throw off every cultural shackle in the name of nonconformity. It needs you.
Carolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where it smells like either chocolate or manure, depending on wind direction. She is the author of the contemporary Catholic romances Stay With Me, Come Back to Me, Ornamental Graces, and All in Good Time, and the coming-of-age story Rightfully Ours. Carolyn is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild, Catholic Teen Books, Pennwriters, and is a CatholicMom.com contributor. True to her Pittsburgh roots, she still says “pop” instead of “soda,” although her beverage of choice is tea.