Conformity was an integral part of my upbringing. My father was a military officer, both in his work and at home.
Still, I was very different from my fellow students at primary school. I was complying with my father’s norms and not with those of my friends or school. I was different in the sense that I always had a short haircut (remember: military coup) and was not allowed to wear jeans. This was hard, especially in the sixties. Also, I wanted to play football, but that was not allowed, I had to play (field) hockey. If I complied in every area of my life (school, gardening, polishing shoes, sports etc.), he would not be angry, then it was sort of okay.
In high school the focus was on knowledge tests and totally not on discovering and developing talents and strengths. And – even more important- there was no attention for who I am and how to live life. Like most young people I had no clue what career and corresponding education to choose. At the university, the approach was basically the same; the focus was mainly on memorizing knowledge. I was still a cog in the learning machine.
Then I had to do military service, no need to further explain what that meant for fitting in.
In my work, both in a small company and in multinationals, there was a strong push to comply with corporate culture. Although it was my job to innovate, there was still this strong centrifugal force.
This means that from a very young age, I was conditioned to meet the expectations of others (parents, teachers, professors, or bosses). I was conditioned to live someone else’s life.
To fit in is the holy grail of our society. It is very likely that you also are expected to fit in.
It is time to dismantle the straitjackets.