12 signs you’re a non-conformist who thinks independently from the crowd

There’s a big group of people who are convinced they’re the most independent, non-conformist individuals who’ve ever existed. 

But I’ve noticed something about many people in this group:

They’re all remarkably similar to one another in how they dress, talk, behave, believe and what motivates them. 

That’s because – at least in the Western world – aping the style and behavior of a non-conformist has become extremely mainstream and popular. 

So how can you know if you’re a real non-conformist who marches to the beat of your own drum, and not just another herd-conformist?

Let’s dive in and look at the signs you’re truly independent: 

1) Your have unconventional hobbies and interests 

You gravitate towards unconventional hobbies or interests and you have since a young age. 

Having hobbies has always been part of your repertoire and come naturally to you, whether it was drawing a comic series of Martians as a kid or painting in unique ways and mediums as an adult. 

“Hobbies are the perfect antidote to the boredom blahs, and are also good for your well-being,” notes Adeel Qayum.

“Research shows engaging in leisure activities is associated with less stress, positive mood, and improved health.”

You’re also fascinated by things many others find weird, whether that’s weather modification technology, rare stones, symbology in indigenous cultures or the history of naval power and its relation to trade.

2) You’re open to new ideas and perspectives

You seek out diverse perspectives and are open to changing your opinions based on new information.

While you may have strong beliefs, you don’t cling to them as a security blanket:

You’re open to change and shift. And even if you don’t change what you think very often, you love to be challenged. 

New ideas and perspectives fascinate you, even ones that upset you. 

3) You blaze your own trail in your career and life

You prefer to forge your own path rather than following a predetermined life trajectory.

In your career and your life more broadly, you are the leader. 

Others advise you, influence and encourage you (or discourage you) but they don’t have the final say. You always do. 

You demand that right and you exercise it.

As Ramesh K.V. advises:

“Blazing your own trail means taking a unique, unconventional approach to leadership. 

It involves taking calculated risks, challenging the status quo, and stepping out of your comfort zone. It requires confidence, vision, and resilience.”

4) You stand up to authority when you disagree

You question authority and established beliefs rather than blindly accepting them.

And you always have. 

That doesn’t mean you are inherently anti-establishment, nor does it mean you tend towards anarchism or politically or socially alternative views. 

It simply means you have your own frame of reference about what you believe is right and true, and it isn’t based on who has social or political power. 

5) You follow Polonius’ advice from Hamlet

You value authenticity and prioritize being true to yourself over fitting in.

You always have and you always will. 

You’re true to yourself because anything less than that just wouldn’t be of any value to you. 

Shakespeare himself gave this advice in one of his most famous plays, encouraging the audience to be honest with themselves so they are also always honest with others. 

The king’s advisor Polonius advises his son to always be true to himself in Hamlet, Act I, Scene III, saying:

“This above all: to thine own self be true, 

And it must follow, as the night the day, 

Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

6) You have your own unique fashion sense and style

Your fashion sense reflects your unique personality.

You may notice trends (and like or dislike them) just like anybody else, but they don’t dictate what you wear or how you style yourself. 

You march to the beat of your own style drum, and you have since a young age. 

You may even make your own clothes or do DIY fashion. 

Owen Hyatt has some great advice on this:

YouTube video

7) You love art and literature that pushes the boundaries

You’re drawn to art, literature, and music that provoke thought and push boundaries.

Ever since a young age, you’ve judged things on their own merits rather than on what people say about them. 

You tend to like obscure films that others don’t “get” and you read books and genres that the majority of people overlook. 

The key is that you don’t do it to get noticed or be special. Not at all. In fact you sometimes may even be a bit embarrassed by how unorthodox you are. But it’s just who you are. 

This list of ten books that push boundaries is a good place to start.

8) You’re friends with a wide array of unique folks

Your social circle consists of individuals with varied backgrounds and perspectives rather than cliques.

Ever since you can remember you made friends with people of all social backgrounds and types.

Being friends with just one gender or just one social class would be terribly dull in your books. 

Taking a look at your friends it would be hard to peg you down to any one category, because you cross all the social lines and mix things up in a way few others do.

9) You don’t mind spending time alone – in fact, you like it

You’re comfortable with solitude and don’t feel the need to constantly seek validation from others.

In fact, you enjoy time alone and find it empowering and refreshing. 

It gives you time to collect your thoughts, become more mindful and focus on who you really want to be in life, rather than who society or other people expect you to be. 

This is your time to hone in on your true self and embody it more fully and powerfully. 

10) You don’t check whether your opinion is popular before voicing it 

You’re not afraid to speak up, even if it goes against popular opinion.

As German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Nuemann noted in her 1974 research, many people live in a “Spiral of Silence,” where they don’t want to speak out against the majority in fear of being excluded or disliked. 

But you’ve never had that issue and are consistently open to speaking out and saying how you really feel. 

You don’t look around first to check if others agree, nor do you canvas opinions first or change what you say under pressure.

As Jack Kosowski writes:

“From music to art to sports, there always seems to be a majority opinion…

Most people get so confident and aggressive with their own opinion around others that agree with them that they fail to listen to differing opinions.”

11) You’re growing and learning even as you age

You actively seek out opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery.

You’re never “done.”

There isn’t a point at which everything is just boring and you already know it all. 

You embrace change and your life is a process of evolution. You seek out new challenges and opportunities on an ongoing basis and thrive on that. 

Even conflict and failure are experiences you try to learn from rather than stigmatize or denounce as enemies. 

12) Your moral code isn’t just based on convention

You live by your own moral code rather than just convention. 

Your beliefs may line up with a traditional religious faith or spiritual path, but they are beliefs you have internalized and experienced as true to yourself. 

You didn’t just read them somewhere or have a person tell you they are true: your own path and experiences have convinced you that what you live by and believe to be true is indeed true and right. 

As Janelle Barowski and Yolanda Williams View write:

“Personal moral codes are developed through deep reflection on what is important and considered good practice by the person. 

They have to decide what types of decisions they want to make, and the affect they want to make on other people.”

The non-conformist, defined

The non-conformist thinks for themselves because it’s just who they are. 

If that sounds like you, then you’ve always been that way. You’re not trying to prove anything or be special, and there have been many situations in life where not being so independent and unique would have been a huge advantage. 

But you couldn’t sell yourself short or go against your true nature. And you never will.

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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