Listen to your itch

By Orla Loughran Hayes

Imagine a world without conformity. Spaghetti Bolognese would become a regular fixture on the typical breakfast menu. Coco pops would become a common order at a fancy restaurant. Office workers would probably ditch their regular suit and tie combo, opting instead for an elaborate Star Wars costume. That’s if, they even showed up to work at all.

Conformity is clearly, necessary for a functioning society. Without it, we may well find ourselves in the in the midst of complete chaos. People would simply act on impulse and desire. Rules would disintegrate.

However, while conformity is an integral part of society; in a certain context, it's also something that we should be wary of. When a person conforms to the masses, they begin to value others’ opinions over their own. In doing so, they risk abandoning their uniqueness.

Detrimentally, the pressure to conform can result in young people abandoning their passions and dreams. The expectations of peers, teachers and parents, can pressure a young person to pursue a conventional career path. Teens who have always dreamed of a career as a tap dancer may well find themselves applying for an engineering degree. Those with an itch to for the theatre stage can end up in the financially stable confines of a 9-5 office job.

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"Listen to your itch, your dream, your calling"

It’s a worry of mine that young people may be abandoning their artistic passions and conforming to a current anti-arts degree wave. In 2017, data released by UCAS found that fewer UK students are choosing a creative path. Between 2016 and 2017 a sum of 14,270 fewer people applied for arts and design courses. In the media, we are increasingly seeing creative subjects labelled as ‘soft’, perhaps even worthless, threatening to land a graduate in unemployment.

In my opinion, this devaluation of the arts should be fought. Not only are arts a valuable source of entertainment, they are also integral to self-expression. Without them, we would have no way of expressing our feelings, fears, dreams and even our humanity.

Rather than conforming to trends, I’m calling for young people to break free from convention. Don’t let employment statistics, the media, or the opinions of others dictate your identity. Listen to your itch, your dream, your calling. After all, individualism breeds leadership. Wouldn’t it be miles better to breed a generation of leaders, than following zombies?