“The universe whips you with its displeasure for nonconformity,” writes Emerson (para 11). He doesn’t have any proof in this case. Do you have any personal associations that come to mind when you hear this? Or, to put it another way, how does society treat nonconformists? How difficult is it to be a nonconformist in our culture (or any other society you might think of)? What role does conformity or nonconformity play in college, university, or education for you or others?
Emerson’s comment reveals that he has previously clashed with people by refusing to adhere to their values or activities. Indeed, Emerson makes the reader understand that the society may be unforgiving to people who refuse to comply with the norms. Failing to confirm to the community is difficult as one can easily be regarded as an outcast. The society hence tends to dictate the way a person dresses, talks and even live their personal life. For instance, a child is expected to go to school, get a job and settle down. One who then decides to go against the tide is discriminated against in the community he comes from since he is considered to be weird. When people first attend college, they are at their authentic self. However, with time, they tend to be initiated into the campus culture and their desire to fit in makes them adopt these new behaviors. University students who choose to go against the tide are alienated from social circles and regarded as proud. The young students hence find themselves in a fix as they try to safeguard their beliefs and heritage and also become popular in school.
Emerson does not use this word, but he might if this were written today. What role does peer-pressure play in relation to self-reliance (or the self)?
Peer pressure plays a vital role in forming personal beliefs and character. While individuals may desire to be authentic and self-reliance, they are easily influenced by their company. Peer pressure emerges from the need to be accepted in a group, and that affirmation tends to distort one’s behavior. Self-reliance may hence be difficult in a society that believes in following in other people’s footsteps because that assures people of specific results. People are unwilling to navigate their path and face uncertainties in their lives.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Self-Reliance. Dodge Publishing Company, 1989.