I’ve lived most of my life adhering to societal norms—apart from a few rebellious years in my youth.
Yet, as an individual who has been dutifully following these rules—and finding a sense of security in doing so—I now feel an overwhelming need to question my choices.
The need arises during social gatherings when conversations invariably turn into debates about societal expectations and individual freedoms.
It arises from my elders who firmly believe that following societal norms is the only path to a successful and fulfilling life.
It arises from peers who have dared to defy norms and wonder whether I truly wish to remain confined by these invisible boundaries forever.
In the face of these questions, I find myself asking why am I the one who needs to justify my desire to follow societal norms.
I believe there’s too much pressure from society to conform. The result is that many people end up living a life that is shaped by expectations and not by their personal choices or desires.
In this article, I’m going to attempt to convince you that there is no shame in breaking away from these 7 societal norms, just as there’s no shame in choosing to adhere to them. I’ll do this by unraveling why it’s okay to live a life that is not limited by societal expectations.
The fundamental point is that our decisions should be born out of our own desires and not from societal pressures that make us fearful of going against the tide.
By the time we reach the conclusion of this piece, I hope to have persuaded you that there is no shame in defying these 7 societal norms, just as there’s no shame in choosing to comply with them.
The critical point is our decision should stem from our own choices and not from external pressures that make us fearful of disrupting the status quo.
1) You’re always chasing success
This is a challenging norm to dismantle.
“Societal success” often comes from the belief that our value is measured by our achievements. But the truth is, our value is inherent and not dependent on external validation.
Let me delve deeper.
Consider your self-worth right now. It isn’t determined by the number of degrees you hold. The size of your bank account doesn’t dictate your value. Your societal status doesn’t encapsulate who you are as an individual. While reading these lines, you may have experienced a pang of discomfort or denial.
If you’re going to live a fulfilled life, it’s vital to understand that you’re not defined by societal success. You’re much more than your accomplishments.
It’s crucial to dispel the illusion of worth that comes from believing your achievements define you. They don’t. Your character does, and it’s most impactful when it shines through irrespective of your successes or failures. When you act authentically.
As you move towards internal validation, another societal norm surfaces, which might seem counterintuitive…
2) You want to fit in
This is a societal norm that isn’t as straightforward as it seems.
“Conforming to societal standards” often stems from the fear of being ostracized or labeled as different. But the truth is, our differences are what make us unique and valuable.
Let’s dive into this.
Consider your individuality right now. It isn’t defined by the latest trends you follow or the popular beliefs you subscribe to. Your worth isn’t decreased by your unique choices or tastes. Your individuality isn’t a flaw to be corrected, but a strength to be celebrated.
If you’re going to live an unlimited life, it’s essential to acknowledge that fitting in isn’t a prerequisite for acceptance. You are more than a societal mold.
It’s critical to challenge the societal pressure of conformity that comes from fearing judgment or rejection.
Your authenticity is your power, and it’s most impactful when you embrace your individuality despite societal pressures.
When you act authentically, you demonstrate courage and inspire others to do the same.
Embracing this individuality is liberating, but as you start appreciating your uniqueness, you might notice a different societal pressure weighing on you…
3) You’re used to suppressing your emotions
This norm might seem like a protective measure, but sooner or later, you might find yourself wrestling with the emotions you’ve been suppressing.
You might even find yourself on the receiving end of those suppressed emotions. Few individuals are resilient enough to constantly bottle up their feelings without any emotional fallout.
Suppressed emotions tend to surface in all aspects of life, but if you deliberately put yourself in a position to ignore your feelings, you’re setting yourself up for an emotional upheaval.
Also, it’s important to question the role of emotional suppression in your life.
Maybe you’re suppressing your emotions because you fear being seen as weak or vulnerable.
Often, we chastise ourselves for displaying emotions, as if they are something we shouldn’t experience.
Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge these feelings. They may be an indicator that you’re stifling your human nature.
As you navigate these suppressed emotions, you’ll come across another societal constraint that shapes our perception…
4) You’re bound by a timeline
I began this piece by focusing on societal norms and constraints.
The thing is, these norms and expectations also dictate our perception of time.
In many cases, individuals get caught up in life’s timeline. They become consumed with the next stage of their life’s trajectory.
Their intentions are justified. Following a timeline gives a sense of direction and purpose.
But when they become too engrossed in this timeline, they might slip into the habit of thinking their life’s worth is determined by their adherence to this schedule. They can lose touch with their present joys. They become anxious and probably not such joyous individuals to be around.
If they judged themselves based on societal timelines, they wouldn’t question their behavior.
Instead, because they shouldn’t solely focus on these timelines, they are more able to reflect on their actions and change how they live. They are learning to slow down and appreciate the present moment in their life.
How you live your life is what matters, not the timeline that directs your behavior. And that leads me to another societal expectation that’s subtly influencing your life…
5) You’re always busy
This is a norm I’ve personally grappled with.
As someone who used to pride myself on being perpetually busy, I believed that my worth was tied to my productivity. The busier I was, the more valuable I felt. My life became a constant cycle of tasks and to-do lists, leaving me little time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
But over time, I realized this constant hustle left me feeling burnt out and disconnected from my inner self. The societal expectation of constant busyness had overshadowed my need for rest and rejuvenation.
I used to feel guilty about taking time off or indulging in leisure activities, thinking they were a waste of time. However, I’ve come to recognize that these moments of rest and relaxation are not only necessary but essential for my well-being.
Now, I make it a point to carve out some ‘me-time’ in my schedule. Whether it’s reading a book, going for a walk, or just sitting in silence, these moments of doing ‘nothing’ have become my sanctuary.
So, remember, it’s okay not to be busy all the time. Taking time for yourself is not laziness; it’s self-care. And self-care is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.
As you begin to appreciate moments of rest, you’ll encounter another societal norm that often challenges our decision-making…
6) You prioritize logic over intuition
Society often promotes a deep reverence for logical thinking and problem-solving. It views logic as a reliable guide, whose rationale can illuminate our path and whose evidence-based approach we are urged to adopt.
Here’s the integral point:
This norm nudges us to reflect on our decisions, to understand their logical basis, and to honor the rationality that underpins our choices.
For those feeling conflicted, connecting with our intuition can provide a sense of confidence. It’s a reminder that we are part of a complex cognitive process, one that involves not just logical reasoning but also intuitive understanding.
Valuing intuition encourages us to see our decision-making as part of a broader cognitive narrative, which includes both logic and intuition, and can provide a sense of balance and wholeness.
When you try to live your life directed solely by logic, you might find that you follow yet another societal norm…
7) You avoid failure at all costs
Society often frames failure as a negative outcome to be evaded. It paints a picture of success as the ultimate goal, implying that anything less is unacceptable.
Here’s a different perspective:
This norm could be steering us away from invaluable learning opportunities. Failure, as uncomfortable as it may be, often serves as a catalyst for growth and evolution.
For those fearing failure, embracing the possibility of not succeeding can be liberating. It’s a reminder that we are part of an ongoing journey, one that includes victories and setbacks in equal measure.
Recognizing failure as an integral part of success encourages us to see our endeavors not just as means to an end but as learning experiences that shape us and enrich our lives.
Embracing failure, ironically, might just lead us to the success we seek.
Bottom line: It could be liberating
The complexities of societal norms and expectations often have profound effects on our personal freedom and happiness.
One such effect is the liberation that comes with challenging these norms.
This liberation, prevalent in many who’ve chosen to live life on their terms, acts as a catalyst for change and growth, playing a pivotal role in their overall well-being.
For those daring to defy societal norms, this sense of liberation might be a key factor in their quest for an unlimited existence. The freedom could potentially induce a sense of contentment and happiness when they engage in activities that align with their true self.
Whether it’s carving their own path, embracing their individuality, honoring their intuition, or learning from failures, the underlying freedom might be enhancing their experience.
As the famous quote by Mark Twain goes, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
This reflection might just lead you to break free from limiting societal norms and pave the way to an existence that is truly unlimited.