As previously seen on Wit & Delight
Editor’s Note: As we venture further into August, a month in which we’re encouraging readers to break out of their boxes, we’re unearthing this post that makes a case for disregarding the societal expectations that tend to be placed on us all with reckless abandon. We hope you find it insightful, and we hope you have a great weekend, too.
Humans. There are billions of us on this here planet, and while we’re different in many ways, there are common threads that run through us all, no matter the culture or part of the world in which we live. We all have beating hearts, for one. We’re all just vessels of pure emotion and opinions, for another. And we all live in communities that place a hell of a lot of pressure on folks to live life according to certain societal norms.
I understand that this is human nature. I understand that we try to make sense of the world, and other people, by comparing ourselves to them. I understand that sometimes this comes out in the form of undue critiques or expectations. I get it, I know it, I empathize with it. I swear.
But hearing these critiques? Taking them in from our family and friends and, oftentimes, from people we don’t even know? It’s exhausting. It can make us feel awful about ourselves and our lives. It’s not even necessary.
This month we’ve been focusing on the theme of living life exactly as we please. We’ve aimed to accept the things that make us different and, at the risk of sounding cliché, to celebrate the heck out of them. And if celebrating our differences, as well as the varying paths we all take in life is what we’re aiming to do? Societal critiques + expectations? Outdated, tired, subjective as heck societal norms? They can go out the window, too.
We’re a competitive breed, we humans. We’re a comparative breed. It can be hard for us to interact with other people and not project our own shit onto them. But let’s just, I don’t know, collectively try not to do it. Can we at least try? If you’re connected enough to the way you exist in the world, you can physically feel it when a slightly judgemental thing you’re about to utter is more a reflection of your own ingrained insecurities than those of the person you’re speaking to.
For all the well-intentioned family members; for all the well-meaning friends; for all the eavesdropping strangers on sidewalks and in bars and who truly pop up out of nowhere, fully unsolicited; for us, too: a list of societal critiques that can kindly get the f*ck out:
As per the list above, do you see that you can’t really do anything exactly “right”? Try though any of us might, we can’t live life exactly by the status quo, because guess what, folks—the status quo is different based on who we’re talking to and what day it is and what kind of mood the person facing us is in.
We all have our own internal compasses, guiding us through these windy paths we’re on. As long as you’re not actively hurting or offending anyone else, chances are you’re doing just fine. Anyone who judges you for the way you’re living your life? They’re just projecting their own insecurities onto you. That’s all it is. That’s all any of these societal critiques and expectations are.
None of us are ever going to fulfill the subjective expectations this world seems to want to place on us. We shouldn’t, anyway. Imagine if we all did? How utterly boring this existence of ours would be.
If someone’s critiquing you for being single? It’s because they’re scared beyond belief of being alone themselves. If someone judges you for the job you have? For getting married too quickly? For how much sex you have or don’t have? That’s alllll their own insecurities, being passed over to you.
We’re all doing our best to live these lives of ours. None of us are ever going to fulfill the subjective expectations this world seems to want to place on us. We shouldn’t, anyway. Imagine if we all did? How utterly boring this existence of ours would be.
Do you have any additions to this surely incomplete list? If so, please, please, please share them in the comments. I’d love to hear any and all of ’em.
BY Jackie Saffert - August 7, 2020
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.