Being Yourself In Public

Last night after taking my Theories of Personality midterm, I began thinking about the Collectivist vs. Individualistic cultural theories. In the modern understanding of these theories, most societies on the North American continent are individualistic, meaning we seek to further ourselves more than our society as a whole. This theory also supports that people in an individualistic culture will tend to seek to be as individual as possible, seek to stand out from the group. If this is true, then why do so many people try to follow the group appearance in public? Compare the way people generally look in public, compared to something like the people in a Carmen Sandiego video game. People tend to not have any distinguishing traits anymore, only false fascades. Look at people you may meet at a place, for example, a college campus. There may be the “frat type” or “skater type” guys, but they are just that “type”, unless you interact with them or they happen to be boarding or are in a group of guys wearing similar shirts with greek letters on them, then there really is no way to truly identify in this world. Very few people have distinguishing characteristics of what they truly are. It seems to be something that is seen negatively in society.
For varying reasons, people are not themselves when in public, usually only when they are with others in their “group” (isn’t it fun how often we associate with groups in an INDIVIDUALISTIC society?). Skaters are discouraged from having their boards anywhere but skate parks, members of the military are discouraged from wearing their uniforms in civilian environments (concerns for their safety), photographers with their cameras are seen as potential terrorists (but yet the Google Maps-mobile roams free) and construction workers are considered to be rude if they do not clean up before going into public. These standards, whether they are real, imagined or just perceived, do exist in some form and limit the options for self-expression and for really being an individual.
Complete individualism and complete collectivism do not exist in the normal free world. Pure individualism exists only for people roaming loose on their own in lands that have not been tainted by the industrial world, and pure collectivism only exists in very harsh cultures (think Hitler and his “perfect” population).
Where do you fit into society? How are you an individual? (if you answer the same thing to both questions, you are not trying hard enough)