In high school, I had a teacher that regularly called me on my bullshit. Mrs. O and I had many a wonderful discussion on many topics, and one of the most valuable comments she made to me was in response to emphatic declaration that I don’t really care what people think of me. Her response was simple, she said “But I think you do care about what people think of you.” Of course, at the time I had silently dismissed this. Now I realize that she was absolutely right, but not in the way I thought she meant it. I also realize just how valuable caring what others think really is.
What she meant was, while who I am at my core is not affected by the opinions of others, I make every effort to present myself and my ideas in a way that is well received. I keep my finger on the pulse of the herd and present myself in a way that appeals to them when it benefits me. I live life as a wolf, but when desired I wear the clothing of the sheep. This is an important skill and highlights a crucial element of what it means to be guilty of herd conformity. When dressing and speaking with the intent of being appealing to the herd so as to influence them in accordance with your will, one is practicing Lesser Magic. In contrast, one doing so just because they feel they must be part of the herd, keep up with the Jones’s, or simply because they are unaware they are directed by the thought of the majority is to be guilty of herd conformity. Intent and awareness are that distinction.
In my opinion, recognizing the value of keeping an eye on the herd is an important step in honing the skills of Lesser Magic. The idea of a wolf in sheep’s clothing is that the wolf has disguised itself in order to gain the trust of the sheep by seeming to be a sheep. When I choose to dress a certain way that does not completely fit my personal aesthetic, espouse views not consistent with my own, or even move in a way that is unnatural to me it is for this same reason. The financial and networking benefits have been immeasurable.
So keep an eye on the herd. Mingle with them. Care what others think of you. It puts some money in your pocket and opens doors for you, and rejecting all the herd values for anitconformity’s sake is limiting. However, never forget the wolf beneath the sheepskin.