The Inconvenience of Conformity

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The violins are starting. The curtains are opening. The spotlight hits each crystal dangling precariously off the bodice of a “perilously thin, desperately beautiful, gracefully elongated girl”[1]. She glides across the stage in a combination of pirouettes en dedan and en dehors — followed by a sequence of fouettés. Stepping carefully, she is suspended in the air. And for a moment, all is still before the arch of her foot snaps back forming a ‘c’. This is the “Balanchine” body, and it is this very ideal that Misty Copeland has broken. Being perhaps one of the first true departures from the traditional lithe dancer’s body, she laments, “I was told that I didn’t have the right skin color… I was too muscular. I was too curvy. My breasts were too big. I was too short.” However, it is breaking from this standard that has made her the first African American principal dancer in American Theatre Ballet. Thus proving, the only reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.

Inspired by Copeland, I’ve written this portfolio to highlight the benefits of establishing your own path and standards. In a way, this project was an extensive persuasive letter to myself. It is a collection of stories and articles illustrating that being conventional doesn’t allow for success or creativity. It simply produces average. I wanted to convinced myself to lose the inclination of monotonous security and to adopt to freestyle life. Then, maybe I will be able find its full meaning and incredible beauty.

Throughout the process of writing this portfolio, it is quite evident how my writing has changed. I learned that writing is not about creating structure and simply answering prompts or analyzing a passage, but about voicing your opinions and ideas. I began writing this portfolio solely to finish it. I had not put any thought into how the essays would connect — instead, I cared only about examining what was asked of me and finishing it on time. The first draft of my essay only probed the surface of each work, and lacked a complete understanding of the author’s message. Now, I hope that I have become cognizant enough to realize the depth of each literary piece.

At the beginning of the semester, I wrote my first essay on T. Coraghessan Boyle’s “The Fugitive”. The prompt was open-ended and free to variations and different interpretations. I was bewildered at the lack of structure and wrote the essay the only way I knew how — the AP Literature three prong approach. It was the paradigmatic model that analyzed diction, tone, and imagery to strengthen your thesis. I took direct quotes and scrutinize over every minute detail in Boyle’s story to forward my claims. However through this class, I realized that not all essays need to be five paragraph. Writing an essay is essentially developing a creative piece that outlines your thought process and vision in a fluid manner.

My first essay used the story of Marciano, a man who had become plagued with a resistance form of TB. The overall theme of conformity fits here, because Marciano yearned to be act normal without a mask or any indications that he was sick and different. He tried to hurry the recovery process, and stopped taking the drugs that made him feel like a sick outlier. However, it backlashed causing the tuberculosis to return stronger.

For my second essay, I chose to write a profile piece on the life of Andrew Zimmern. It was my favorite essay to write, because it was about a person who I have always admired. He travel around the world experiencing the food and culture most of us see through a screen. Therefore, he has served as my inspiration to study abroad. While writing this piece, I learned Zimmern was a victim of drugs and alcohol addiction before he appeared on my TV screen for the first time in 2007. While trying to conform to the ideals of being a chef, the stress and pressure of it all broke him down. He turned to artificial means of relief before finding help. Zimmern is yet another prime example of success beyond perceived boundaries.

Finally, I wrote an annotated bibliography focusing on the impact of music on our society. There were several articles depicting performers, composers, and artists stepping beyond the conventional rules and mainstays of traditional music.

As I submit this portfolio, I hope to be able to look back and use this as a constant reminder to be unique. To have courage in myself and my abilities. And to persevere. In my biography, I wrote out how my first semester of college has been less than pleasurable. It seemed like I was constantly jumping hoops to catch up to everyone else — rushing to finish before I even got started. So here’s a note to myself — the road for school, especially pharmacy school, is a marathon. No matter how long it takes or how defeated you feel. Finish it by your rules. For yourself.