Life is a giant cogwheel of change. Though change is an inherent characteristic of it, the individuals who constitute it are expected to conform. Right from very early in our life, even before we have developed the discretion to make our own conscious choices, till the day we give it off to the tough dictates of senility, our existence is a continuing attempt at finding acceptance. An acceptance in this world of ever morphing beliefs and paradigms. This acceptance, we strive for at a multitude of facets. Beginning from the acceptance by the family, through the neighborhood, the band of friends at school, at college and then in finality, the wide open vast wilderness of the world we get to realize we live in.
Things go easy at the formative years of life, from the innocence of childhood and through the flirtatious shyness of high school. It’s into the college that complications arise. It’s a stage in life, wherein we want to stand apart. We break rules. We disregard orders. We make a sham of obedience. It’s not just a want, rather a need. A need to develop an individuality of our own, a personality that’s personal. And this is followed by a furious attempt to uphold it, while at the same time, striving to be accepted while being recognized. Complex as it may seen, it’s etched into each one’s psyche, and we attempt for it just as naturally as quenching thirst with water.
Now let me go more personal to present before you such a clash of priorities that I happened to witness at first-hand once in college.
I used to have a beard, a neat and beloved French beard. And to top it, a flowing lock which I had parted in the middle. To complement this set-up would be my tasteful choice of clothing. And once in the morning, after the Op class the Professor caught up with me and quipped, “Tomorrow I need you to come with a clean shave, a trim cut and a clean white coat over that imposing designer shirt of yours.” The very idea was devastating and the thought of me new look revolting.
“Sir, but I like it this way. Makes me feel comfortable of self.” Thus objected the self-preservation instinct in me. Isn’t it my liberty about how I tend to self?! I am a reasonably good student. I read my courses, observe with finesse at the wards and also endeavor to answer in the Op. If I fail in any of these, I may deserve reprimand. But my looks, aren’t they my liberty?!
But the professor wasn’t to let me off with it. “In our profession we follow a code. And you are expected to conform so as to be part of that community which we doctor’s constitute. You need to wear a white coat to identify self amidst us. And a clean shave and a trim cut to find acceptance among us. It’s something we expect from you over and above dedication and hard-work. Better I see you in your new look tomorrow. Bet you would look just as smart if not more.”
Having being told so, I had no second thought but to adopt the new look. I wouldn’t have minded to, if it was my own conscious decision, my choice. But the fact that I did it on being told to do so, never went easy with me. Maybe to find acceptance in something that means a lot for you, actually more than anything else, you need to conform. You need to stake your liberty at places. You need to make a bargain between your priorities. You need to lose something, to gain something. Or maybe not. Be it what it may, I still got many years to learn before me, and many more wisdom to gather. Bet I have my answers someday.