If you don’t conform to the majority community’s beliefs, you’re bound to face social exclusion from most of the people you come across daily. Even those who know you will start avoiding you.
It might not be deliberate. It may not even be an immediate response to your non-conformism. But you’ll start seeing the effects soon enough.
Being an atheist in a Muslim family, I’ve learned to avoid most of my family members, just like they’ve learned to avoid me. I don’t want to alienate myself, but unfortunately, I’ve been left with no choice.
Understanding the concepts of privilege blindness and just-world hypothesis has moved me towards secular humanism, freethought, and feminism. These social and philosophical stances are but a logical and ethical conclusion for me; the same reason I accepted atheism, long before I was even aware of these other ideas.
Otherwise, I’d just be living in denial. Where’s the challenge in that?
So, even the majority of atheist community in India (which ironically is itself a minority) repels me because of my other stances regarding various social issues. It doesn’t matter which religious background they’ve come from. I’ve seen that most of them are conformists as far as other social issues are concerned.
Just ask them for their views about the caste system (especially the topic of caste-based reservation), and you’ll realize where they really stand.
The only way to be accepted into some community is to become like them, or at least not challenge them actively. You should especially not stand against their ideas and beliefs. That’s heresy.
Maintaining the status quo is how you bargain your entry into the mainstream community. Only then are you rewarded with acceptance.
“Don’t encourage bad behavior” is a term commonly used to train animals. We’re training ourselves the same way to fit in with the rest of the populace.
What is the solution then? Sadly, there’s no clear-cut answer to this complex conundrum.
The only way to be a satisfied non-conformist is to accept a lonely life, or at least the possibility of a lonely life.
There might be others who may have the same feelings, beliefs, and opinions as you, but perhaps they’ve stopped trying after being disappointed with everyone around them.
No matter how energetic and motivated you are, if you’re being shunned time and time again, you’re bound to give up soon enough.
Not many are hard-headed to carry on with the same zeal in face of continuous rejections.
So, is it wise to be as loud as possible to attract those who do share something in common with you? That may work, but that also means alienating those who at least try to put up with you.
Success would bring you closer to like-minded people. Failure, which is more probable, would only push you further towards loneliness. It is a gamble.
I really don’t know how to win this game yet, nor do I really want to know how to at this point of time in my life.
I just want to be the best version of myself.
The threat of social exclusion is very much a reality for all the non-conformists.