Forget Being Normal — Why Social Norms Are Meant To Be Broken

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woman in nature

To succeed in life, you must break out of your box, your comfort zone. If you remain a recluse, then you’re never going to accomplish what you want (unless you want to be a recluse, of course).

You might worry that you’ll stand out in public, that you’re not exactly considered “normal,” but that’s what’s supposed to happen.

You’re meant to stand out, and societal norms are meant to be broken to make room for progress.

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Progress requires change, and change means disrupting the norm.

You should never blindly follow social norms just because you think it’s what you’re required to do. You should question them.

Ask yourself why your house needs to be spotless when you have guests over.

Wonder why you celebrate holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Halloween. Find out the real reasons you do the things you do, and you might be surprised how many things you do just out of habit or social expectation.

For instance, maybe you discover that you're only going to church on holidays because you've always done that growing up.

Or maybe you discover that the real reason we celebrate Halloween isn't for you.

You don't have to go big on national holidays just because your neighbors do. You can celebrate the way you want and stay true to what the holiday means to you and your family.

If you are doing things because you want to do them, they edify your beliefs or they serve another great purpose in your life, then keep doing them.

Otherwise, consider eliminating them from your life and daily routines or future plans. 

Why do you need to waste your time pleasing society when society is bound to change, anyway? 

And society does change. A lot. Still, it should be changing faster. 

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Maybe you don’t want a baby even though your parents, friends, and literally everyone else in the world expect you to have one.

Or maybe you’d rather rent an apartment than own a home to fit in with your nomadic lifestyle despite the societal pressures to buy a house.

And maybe you don’t think you want to be in a romantic relationship right now because you’re asexual, feel better being alone, or have no interest in finding a partner.

Don’t let the world convince you that the way you want to live your life is wrong.

Sometimes, it’s OK to just want to rebel against social norms even though they don’t affect you. Your rebellion could be something as small as wearing clothes that don’t match or something as big as promoting your uniqueness on a blog or podcast. 

Social change happens when we question the norms, not when we accept them for what they are.

I'll be honest with you. It's not easy to break habits like these, to break social norms.

You need to be true to yourself and try to ignore what others are doing, thinking, and saying. Because people will notice that you're being different.

They may point, laugh or question you. They may judge you for going against the grain. 

However, this has to happen to make a change sometimes. 

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Meaghan Summers is a freelance editor for Sourcebooks, independent consultant for Fiverr, and associate editor for Defense Security Cooperation University. Her writing covers mental health, pop culture, and relationship topics.