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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:
[quote]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.[/quote]
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.
19 thoughts on “Conforming to Society vs Living Your Dreams”
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.
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!
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.
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 🙂 .
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.
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.
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!
awesome post, so true
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.
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.
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…..
this is so inspiring, passion makes the difference all indeed! 🙂
I totally disagree with what most people are saying. why is it that going against society is the in thing nowadays. I’ve seen and heard many people saying i never want to be normal because it is so boring and overrated, there are many flaws to this statement. first, being ‘normal’ does not mean you can’t do all these great things. secondly, people confuse living their lives with making a living and as a result seperate the two, make them mutually exclusive and call one ‘normal’. You can still do all these things that victoria has done while still making a living, getting a car, a house, kids (maybe not this one). lastly, as much as people think they are cool by being ‘weird’ and not doing ‘normal’ things, it’s actually annoying because one-you let society dictate what you want to do by doing the complete opposite and two-most of the time you end up being a selfish ass to the people around you because as soon as doing things for them becomes way too ‘normal’ then you bail.
I enjoy having a steady job, not just packing my bags and going to the first place my finger stops on the globe, why, not because i am ‘normal’ or a stickler because i feel as if i can still do this things whenever, while being ‘normal’ and not as an act of defiance against society. A lot of people who are ‘living life to the fullest’ tend to look down on those doing otherwise- i am not saying get ruled by society here- and they do this because somehow i cannot live life to the fullest if i have a stable job, plus what if having a 9-5 completely fulfills me.
All this ranting is obviously fuelled by experience as i have learnt is always the case with people and mine is by heartbreak because she always wanted to live life as if she was dying tomorrow by doing the most craziest things. you know how i would live my last day- with all the friends and family i have made deep connections with while i was being ‘normal’ and actually living life to the fullest mind you, not some random *insert random nationality here* person who doesn’t even know what i am about, my dreams , hopes and fear dog gone it.
I say being normal is actually not that bad and doesn’t necessarily mean conformation to society or is mutually exclusive to having a fulfilled life. stop hyping up the need to do unnecessary things at unnecessary times for unnecessary reasons- fight actual conformity by living your life outside society not against it
Reading this post is like a breath of fresh air for me. For the past five to six years now, I’ve been getting the run-around from my family and even some of my friends about what I should be doing with my life. Many of them look down on me because I’m not in school anymore and I haven’t had a job since working a temporary one from Dec. 2010-Feb 2011. Like you, I also hated getting up early in the morning to go to work, but stuck it out because I was afraid of quitting at the drop of dime and being ridiculed for it in the process. Luckily, my job was only 9 to 1 pm because I wasn’t permanent and was part time. The position I had was filled by an older guy I worked with. I went to job club every couple of Thursdays and was usually paid on Friday for two weeks of work. Anyway, to make a long story short, I eventually decided to leave the “rat race” to focus on my education. But, to be honest, I came to the awful realization that I wasn’t employable due to lack of work experience and being disabled. Not one, but two people told me it was going to be hard for me to get a job because of this. They even asked if I did some volunteer work like most employers care about that. The job agency I went to didn’t help and ended up giving me dead leads.
Now, I’m on a path to being self-employed. One of my dad’s old friend said many people have jobs before starting their own business. But, what am I to do if no one’s gonna give me a position? Sometimes, you have to make opportunities for yourself AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I’M DOING.
Thank you so much for this post Victoria! Like yourself, I always knew that I didn’t want to conform and throughout my life I have always been the ‘odd one out’ and the ‘black sheep’ because I was never able to fit in and conform. Not matter how hard to tried to conform I was always ostracised and demonized. Now, I’ve reached a point where I’ve had enough and I just don’t care to try anymore – I am not going to live my life via society’s expectations because that will not make me happy, especially when I know that my efforts will just go to waste.
Also, like yourself, I’m not interested in living the lifescript. I graduated last year and started working and I realised that I didn’t want to spend the next 40-odd years competing in the rat race, so I decided to go freelance and it’s bringing me joy. Also, I’m not the type of person who wants the traditional life – my ultimate goal is to travel the world.
I am a 40 yr old American. I came from a poor family, lost my parents at a young age, and have always struggled to get a leg up in society, despite my abilities. I’m always quite capable of traveling and love adventure, but have not had the great fortune to do so. I am not a conformist, but I have learned to hide my natural tendencies well enough to keep a normal job, provide for a child, cover the utility and phone bills, eat healthy food, etc. I had a girlfriend for 3 years who at the time I met her was your age (24) and shared your philosophy here almost exactly. She came from a rich family, always had every opportunity, and it was therefore easy for her to give it all up as “not good enough” or too ordinary. She has traveled the world, worked odd jobs and quit them when she felt like it, and lived freely as you describe. She did not understand why I plowed away like a slave, squashed my dreams, and just subsisted in the same town for 15 years, the same job for 10. How boring! Well, she turned 26 and her parents can no longer provide her with health insurance. She struggled to find a job that paid more than $15/hr because everyone wants to live here. She struggled to find housing and looked to me to bail her out, or her parents. So you see, a sense of responsibility depends on how much security you feel you must provide for yourself. Count yourself lucky if you have health insurance. In America, no one can afford to get sick, so we stay home and keep our boring jobs. I also broke up with her because of her lack of empathy or understanding for my efforts. I feel she must learn to make her own life, not depend on me. I already have a child to look after.
Thank you for this great post!
I hate what the society conforms us to be and do. All for someone else’s validation. What about our own validation? It is, after all, our lives we are living/wasting to others’ wishes and opinions.