Conforming to Society vs Living Your Dreams

conformity and standing out from the crowd

Conformity.

Part of my decision to travel the world was because of my dislike for that word. Why are we so hell bent on conforming to society?

 

 

According to Wikipedia:

Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours to what individuals perceive is normal to their society or social group. This influence occurs in small groups and/or society as a whole, and may result from subtle unconscious influences, or direct and overt social pressure.

In school I was a straight A student and went to an all-girls’ private school. I was told by my teachers and my Mum, that straight-A students go to university and study to be a doctor or a lawyer…something with ‘status’. Those doctors or lawyers go on to make lots of money, get a mortgage, buy a house, meet a handsome fellow and have a couple of children. They get to go to those school reunions at 50 and feel comfortable that they did a good job you know?

But deep down I always knew I didn’t really want to conform to society. Why does that pattern constitute success? What is success even?? 

I liked the idea of being different. My Mum could see that, and that made her despair somewhat. She has struggled with money, and she didn’t want to see me do the same. I didn’t know quite what I wanted to be, but I knew it wasn’t what my teachers hoped for me.

I like watching movies, and I would watch these inspirational films and think “I want to do something great with my life”. Travel. Have fun. Do amazing things. Fall in love. Meet all sorts of weird and wonderful people. Perhaps change the world around me a little bit.

All those great inventors, explorers, entrepreneurs- the people that I look up to- they all have one thing in common…they gave the middle finger to conformity. Some of the most successful people in the world didn’t even finish school! I recently read an article about billionnaire Richard Branson. He’s dyslexic, struggled in school and left at 15 because he had some big ideas. At the age of 99, Sir Richard’s grandmother wrote to him to suggest he read: “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking…within the letter she wrote; “You’ve got one go in life, so make the most of it.” Looks like he really paid attention to those words.

One day I sat down and wondered…why do we eat cereal for breakfast? Why can’t we eat other foods at breakfast time? Why does the fork go on the left and the knife on the right? Why is a suit considered formal attire? And the only answer I could come up with…was convention.

Next time you do something, ask yourself; “Am I doing it because I want to, or because it’s what society tells me to do?”

Perhaps there’s an afterlife, but I’m not taking my chances.

To me, we only get one shot at life. Don’t worry about what people think. Don’t waste it working in a job that doesn’t make you happy. Don’t put off all those things you want to do for when you retire. You might not even make it to retirement. Live your dreams whilst you are young. Travel. Explore. Love. Live. Have stories to tell your grandchildren. Live a life that people would want to write about.

It can be scary being different. But don’t measure your own life by what other people are doing.

Let’s get one thing straight, living your dreams doesn’t have to be expensive. People think that traveling the world costs thousands of dollars, but you can do it for cheap. You can find jobs all over the world to get you by.

I get really tired of people telling me I’m “lucky” that I get to travel the word. “I wish I was doing what you’re doing!” they tell me. Why don’t you go an do it then? Save up some money and go do it!

And it’s not luck. It was a conscious decision I took. It’s been pretty hair-raising sometimes, but the hard work is starting to pay off. It’s not easy being self-employed, and I work pretty damn hard.

Traveling not really your thing? No worries. That’s what’s great about living your dreams. They’re your dreams. Perhaps you have a business idea but you’ve just not taken the leap. Well there’s no time like the present.

I’m 24. I may not be rich. I don’t have a house. My Mum still despairs. But I have never worked 9 to 5. I don’t like getting up early. I’m really just at the beginning of the road, but I like where it’s heading. I make money for this blog and from freelancing. I’m looking at starting new projects and websites. I like creating new ideas and being my own boss.

NOT conforming to society might just be the best decision you can ever make. To quote the Apple commercial Think Different - it’s the “crazy ones” that achieve the success.

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12 Responses to Conforming to Society vs Living Your Dreams

  1. Earl Squirrelson November 25, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Nice post Victoria! Have never wanted to be normal much to the despair and confusion of family and friends.

    It’s all about chasing your dreams and doing what you wanna do with YOUR life.

    I love posts like this cause it helps me reuse my focus.

    Cheers muchly!

  2. Jodi November 25, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    I loved this post. I can honestly relate, seeing that I’m 23…love to travel, and I also have a mom who despairs. I too, hate the word normal, and I’d really love to meet the people in charge of creating the constraints of conformity so that they can have a piece of my mind! Live your life for you!

  3. Erik November 25, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    I love the sentiments. In the end, you have to do what makes you happy and what makes life meaningful for you. If we spend our whole lives making other people happy, there are many things we are meant to do that won’t be done.

    I went to university at a small, religious school where conformity seemed to be what they were most interested in teaching, and 95% of the school lined up like sheep to absorb it. I never fit in there, and by my last year, I was openly ostracized. The whole experience only convinced me that I had to live life my own way.

  4. Deb November 26, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    It is so refreshing to read this post Victoria and I totally agree with you!!! This is it – we only get one go at this life and we are obliged to make the best of it!! I am in my fifties have always been a non-conformist… Six months ago my husband & I packed our bags and headed to South America with no plans – and we are having the time of our lives. Who knows we may run into you somewhere in the world in the future!!! Stay true to yourself :) .

  5. Dave November 26, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    nice post – like the site refresh too :) Many people allow fear to dictate what they do in life – I think we all do to a degree. Fear of the unknown and fear of change. Security is a powerful suppression on life. Stepping outside my comfort zone is always a thrill. I’d rather regret doing something than regret not doing something. I’d also rather look back on my life on my death bed and remember all the amazing experiences I had and all what mother earth had to offer us rather than think about a big pot of money and nice shiny materialistic items. At the end of the day – it’s what ever makes you happy, every one is different and we shouldn’t compare our lives with others.

  6. Roy Marvelous November 26, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Totally agree, Victoria. The sad thing is people think it’s safe to conform whereas it’s the opposite! It’s a huge risk to not dare to live your dreams.

  7. Peg November 28, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    Good post. It took us a long, long time to really stop worrying about conforming. Traveling is what did it for us because we could finally really see that there is no such thing as normal. Not even a little bit.

    Thanks for writing!

  8. tyler durden April 8, 2012 at 12:43 am #

    awesome post, so true

  9. conor February 17, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    This is incredible . Its so inspirational to see somebody carving their own path ! Keep up the amazing work, I hope to follow in your footsteps.

  10. sarah September 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    Hi Victoria
    Thank you so much for the post. It’s very inspiring.
    I too don’t want to conform.
    I’ve always had this dream, (I wanted my work to be creative and artistic,)
    but i was afraid to follow it, because of what my parents might think.
    But after reading your post, i’m gonna go after my dream and try to make it come true.
    After all, we only live once, but if it’s done right, once is enough.

    Thank you so much.

  11. Olivia October 26, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    Great article! I just stumbled upon it looking for excuses to travel rather than settle down!
    I just wanted to know though, is it possible to do everything you’ve done with no qualifications? I sort of haven’t done the uni thing yet, and i’m 25, with no qualifications, so maybe it’s not as realistic for me?
    I’m just tossing up between travelling early next year, or keeping that money to start in a new city with a 3 year degree…..

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