There is a certain freedom in conforming. Non-conformity takes a lot of effort, creativity, and energy. To go the way everyone else is going is easy, to think for yourself sometimes you must fight the tide. Conforming relieves you of that pressure to stand out.
I grew up believing that I would become an actor. I studied acting seriously in college and in NYC after graduation. While all of my friends were becoming boring investment bankers (oh, how I wish now that I had become an investment banker then) and accountants, doctors and lawyers, I was busy with art and performance. I was not going to just become another “nobody,” another working stiff like everyone else. Nobody else I knew was going to become an actor and I felt a sense of elitism and pride at my courageous and dubious choice of profession. When I became friends with a certain famous actor and started working in the industry my sense of self-importance grew even greater. While my friends from high school were busy getting their graduate degrees and starting their (boring) families, I was hobnobbing with Hollywood and partying with the power players.
Along with this sense of superiority came other not-so-wholesome beliefs and ideas, many of which are diametrically opposed to Torah values. Marriage was not even a consideration. I was not about to put myself in a situation that would in any way limit my individuality. Marriage was the ultimate act in conformity. That, and getting a “real” job.
Oh how I wish today that the virtues of conformity had been instilled in me from a young age. How I wish I were shown in youth the virtues of a happy marriage and a steady income. Oh to have realized the value of a buck back when our personalities were being molded and to have secured a stable derech from years past.
However, I would be remiss to ignore the gift I have been given, for today I can say that I do appreciate the value of shalom bayis and a steady stream of sustenance. How many more blessings can a BT hope to have than a good wife and a good job? But had it not been for Torah, those blessings would be unrealized, and for that matter so would my children, B”H!
Being a Torah Jew is a battle everyday to resist conformity, to resist doing what the herd is doing, and yet it is also a battle everyday to be a conformist because the halachas and minhagim we have been handed by those who’ve walked before us are imbued with kedusha and when utilized and employed provide the only true way to everlasting immortality…just what every actor wants!