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Stop doing what’s expected of you. Now (or when you feel like doing so). By trying to fit in you are holding back your natural urges and instinctive behavior that make you who you really are.
Don’t falsify yourself by taking the middle of the road path. This path leads to mediocrity and failure. By not standing up for who you really are you are deadening your inner soul. Keep conforming to social norms and you may run the risk of missing out on your own story.
Our society forces us to behave like the majority of people in order to be perceived as normal. Fuck normal. Normal is for scared and boring people.
I feel entitled to say this because I am one of them. Or was.
For a large part of my life I have felt like Buridan’s ass. Two hay piles of purpose right in front of me taunting my being. Gnawing at the core of my existence. Hungry for fulfillment yet too scared to choose. Not having the guts to live my life differently. I now know you can’t reason your way to your calling. You just have to follow your gut and act.
It felt like standing on the riverbank, being too afraid to jump in and play. Will this be the right choice? What will people think? You just have to jump in and swim. You will wash up on the shore a few times but at least you are going somewhere. And if you don’t like it let the stream carry you, get out or swim upstream.
Choosing your personal paths is somewhat like Bill Hicks epifany that the world is like a ride in an amusement park. It’s just a ride and we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. A choice, right now, between fear and love.
“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” – Alan Watts
Here are a few examples of people who stopped meeting expectations and became really successful.
Jiddu Krishnamurti didn’t give a shit
The venerated guru, philosopher, writer and lecturer Jiddu Krishnamurti once asked his audience if they wanted to know his secret. The crowd leaned forward and turned so quiet you could hear a pin drop. In a soft spoken voice he said “You see, I don’t mind what happens”. Which is basically a more eloquent way of expressing you don’t give a shit.
Krishnamurti also advised not to compare yourself with others.
View the whole cartoon at Zen Pencils.
Steve Jobs graduation speech touches the same topic
In his famous Commencement address Jobs promoted non-conformity like this:
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
George Carlin didn’t give a shit
George Carlin, the unabated purveyor of words, the world’s best stand up philosopher, the wittiest criticaster of society was already succesful but became really popular when he stopped doing what he thought was expected of him.
When he began his career he focused on being a mainstream people pleaser. At some point he realized that he didn’t fit. There was something missing. He was missing who he was. After a while George Carlin found out that “what I really was was an outlaw and a rebel”.
I didn’t give a shit. It’s important in life if you don’t give a shit. It can help you a lot.
I was one who swam against the tide of what was expected, but I didn’t know that about myself. Because this dream blinded me. This dream I didn’t know this dissonance was inside me… Suddenly I realized that…artists are using their talent to project their feelings and ideas not just please people…and I was suddenly able to see my place and realize I was in the wrong place.
It took two years. I didn’t go to the mountain and come back different…It took two years. I had denied that part of myself and suddenly it came into full flower.
Former pro surfer, songwriter Jack Johnson sings, “Don’t let your dreams be dreams.” Make them real.”
Bill Hicks and George Carlin had a lack of concern, they just said what they wanted to say. Why are these people so venerated? They are the most valued stand up comedians ever, because they tell the truth. Even if people don’t really want to know it they still want to know it.
How to find a balance?
Know that your needs matter too. In fact they matter the most. Some wise men even say that you should only do things because you want to. Live life on your own terms. Because you care.
Of course conformity isn’t all bad. It’s what makes society work. Conformity leads to feeling attached and solidarity. It’s a matter of finding a balance between being part of the group and letting yourself grow into who you really are.