Conforming: The Illusion of Belonging

Here’s to:

The crazy ones.

The misfits.

The rebels.

The troublemakers.

The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules.

And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.

Because they change things.

They push the human race forward.

While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

1997 – Apple Computer, Inc.

The average American just wants to fit in. But that’s why they’re average. There’s a price to fitting in and to being just average.

What does average look like? It means working for “The Man” at a job you hate and living for the weekend. It means a mortgage, car loans, credit card debt, and the occasional road trip to the same place yearly because it’s a family tradition. It means putting away a little bit from each paycheck in a 401(k) so that when you finally limp to retirement, you find out, like most Americans, that you don’t have enough funds to last through retirement.

Fitting in and conforming is safe, but it’s an illusion. Fitting in means being one paycheck away from disaster. A recent survey found that 64% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Belonging is an illusion. Living paycheck to paycheck sounds uncomfortable. It sounds panic-inducing.

I can’t think of a worse prison than the prison of conformity and being stuck in this box that society has created for you. Society will tell you not to think for yourself. Why bother? Why put in the effort and strain under the pressure of failing if you go outside this box? So, that’s how society imposes conformity on the masses – through fear.

Instead of the fear of going against the masses and suffering the risks and consequences of failure, the successful ones – the ones who succeed beyond average – are afraid of life inside that box. Where others see safety and comfort, the successful ones see beyond the illusion and see a prison. They don’t want to be boxed in. They don’t want to be trapped. They don’t want to live and suffer like everyone else. They want to break the chains of conformity and purge their own path.

For those bold enough to break from the chains of conformity, the first step was to learn to think for themselves. Instead of letting the masses dictate what was and wasn’t acceptable, the bold started thinking about other pathways and opportunities.

My favorite line in that famous Apple “Crazy Ones” TV commercial was the following:

Because the people who are crazy enough to think

they can change the world and are the ones who do.

Just like changing the world begins with a thought, so does freedom and financial independence. First, you must think you can break from conformity and believe you can achieve something you only once imagined. Once you believe you can succeed outside the herd, you will only make the necessary changes to break from the prison of “fitting in.”

Those who “fit in” have to be told what to do. They will believe anything as long as the crowd is on board. Those who conform and “fit in” don’t control their thoughts or destinies.

They let the educational system, corporate America, mainstream media, politicians, and social media do all the thinking for them. They can regurgitate and retweet all the talking points everyone else is spouting, but they can’t tell you a thing about what they want out of life.

These days, if you don’t conform, you could be bullied online and even be “canceled” and wiped off the face of the Internet for not agreeing with the masses. Where will that get you? Misery. Misery loves company, and there’s plenty of misery to go around these days. Just look at all the angry people wasting away online trolling and bullying other people into thinking like them.

Don’t let others tell you how to think.

When it comes to money, think for yourself. Working 9 to 5 for 40 years is not the path to financial freedom. It will take thinking outside the box and being open to other ways of achieving financial independence.

Financial independence will only come when you’re ready to ignore the rules imposed by everyone else. If you want financial independence, you have to be willing to set your own rules. Forget the masses. Follow the crazy ones – the ones who zig when everyone else zags. Break yourself from the prison of average and go against the grain to seek out something different.

Do you want to make enough money to achieve financial freedom?

Forget what everyone else is telling you to do with your money. Ask yourself what the masses are doing and do the opposite. So while most investors pour trillions into Wall Street and the public markets – smart and ultra-wealthy investors gravitate towards the private markets where cash-flowing tangible passive assets insulated from Wall Street volatility offer above-market returns at reduced risk. These investments are more accessible than ever.

So, to free yourself from the prison of conformity, start with private investments to complete your path to financial independence.



Mike Ayala has owned and operated mobile home parks since 2007, and has been active in construction and management since he was 15 years old. He graduated from the Associated Builders and Contractors 4-year project management program at age 22 and then became a licensed instructor. He is also the host of the Investing for Freedom podcast.