Societal expectations and how to ditch them: a girl paragliding

Why It’s Okay to Ditch Societal Expectations

From the moment we are born, society places certain expectations on us. It often goes something like this: study hard to obtain a diploma, secure a high-paying job (even if it doesn’t make you happy), find a partner, and settle down to have children before a certain age.

This traditional life model is what most people follow, or at least feel pressured to follow, even if they don’t necessarily want to. I personally felt this pressure too, not because anyone explicitly pushed me to conform, but because it’s just the way things are and it can be uncomfortable to deviate from the norm.

But now it’s time to examine these societal expectations more closely and see why it’s okay to ignore them.

8 Society Expectations

Obtain A Diploma

One of the societal expectations on the list is to obtain a diploma. While education is certainly valuable, what you choose to study may not always be as important as the critical thinking skills you develop along the way. It’s no secret that having a diploma can open doors in terms of career opportunities and personal development, but the pressure to obtain one can be overwhelming.

Personally, I’ve never really used much of what I learned during my law studies, but it did help me develop a certain way of thinking, attention to detail and problem-solving skills that have proven to be invaluable in my personal and professional life. Plus, I made some of my best friends, but that’s not really an argument.

But does having a diploma automatically mean you’re set for life? Of course not! So if you’re not passionate about what you’re studying, maybe it’s time to reassess your priorities. Don’t let society dictate what you should or shouldn’t study. Don’t get caught by society expectations. Instead, focus on what you’re truly passionate about and let that guide you.

Because at the end of the day, what really matters is not the piece of paper, but the skills and experiences you gain along the way.

Get a High-Paying Job

Ah, the allure of the high-paying job. The status, the prestige, the fancy car and the plush office. But is it really all it’s cracked up to be? I speak from experience when I say that sometimes, the high-paying job is nothing more than a high-paying drag.

Sure, I was living the high life, making bank and climbing the corporate ladder. But at the end of the day, was I truly happy? Absolutely not! Something was missing. And no amount of money could fill that void.

So I did the unthinkable – I quit my high-paying job and started living life on my own terms. And boy, did I get an earful from society!

“Why would you do that? You had everything to be happy”

“When will you come back to reality?”

“I understand you need holidays, but what’s next?”

“What about your pension?”

“You are about to turn 30, should you not focus on family?”

These types of comments reflect the society expectations that are deeply ingrained in our culture.

But you know what? I’ve never been happier. Sure, the digital nomad lifestyle is full of challenges and it might not always be easy making ends meet, but I’m doing something I like and living a lifestyle I’m passionate about. And that, is priceless. You too can learn how to become a digital nomad and travel the world.

It’s important to distinguish between those who are lazy and don’t want to work and those who are simply seeking personal fulfillment in their work and life. People who choose to break free from societal norms and take a different path should be supported rather than criticized.

Society expects individuals to choose their career path as teenagers and stick with it for the rest of their lives. But people change and evolve over time, and it’s okay to explore new paths and discover new passions. We should embrace change and encourage individuals to pursue their dreams, even if it means taking a non-traditional career path. Not everyone is happy with the concept of living on the weekends.

In the end, happiness and personal fulfillment should be the ultimate goals, not just financial stability. So don’t be afraid to pursue what makes you truly happy, even if it means going against societal expectations.

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out my blog article about travel jobs for some ideas on how to break free from the traditional 9-to-5.

Be Scared

This COVID pandemic has been one wild ride. It’s like the world turned upside down and everyone forgot how to play nice with others. People were hoarding toilet paper, for crying out loud! And don’t even get me started on the denouncing – if you had one more person over for your Zoom happy hour than you were supposed to, you were practically a criminal. Seriously? In what world are we living?

We saw what people were capable of, how everyone was only thinking about themselves, and how it made the worst come out of people.

It’s like we time-traveled back to the Soviet Union, where scaring people was the norm to get them to follow the rules. And yeah, it happened during the pandemic, but let’s be honest, it’s been happening since we were born. You’re told you need a proper job to have a decent life, and if you don’t follow a certain path, you won’t be happy.

It’s like society has a rulebook that we’re all supposed to follow, but who wrote it? And why can’t we add our own chapters to it?

A bunch of robots, programmed to follow society’s rules and society expectations without question. Get a job, pay your bills, and shut up already. But let me ask you this – do you really think conforming is the key to happiness? Because I don’t. Just take a look at all the miserable people trudging off to work in the morning. No thank you, I’ll take my tea and a little extra sleep, please.

Morning pool view in Panama or how to ditch societal expectations

And I can already hear some of you saying, “But you’re lucky, you don’t have a loan to pay off or any other responsibilities!” Sure, luck plays a part in life, but it’s not everything. I’ve made certain choices that have allowed me to be where I am now.

I never took any loan out, never asked for any financial help from public institutions, never even accepted company cars because I didn’t want to be tied up. Some people thought I was a bit weird, but when I left with no burden and nothing to hold me back, I felt like I was on top of the world!  Remember, life is all about the choices you make, and how you react to whatever comes your way.

Buy a House and Get a Mortgage

This brings us to getting a mortgage. Getting a mortgage and buying a house is often portrayed as the ultimate adult achievement and one of the biggest societal expectations. You’re finally a “real” grown-up with your own property, and that’s great and all, but have you thought about the long-term consequences?

Sure, I agree, owning a house can give you a sense of security and is an investment, but does everyone need to follow that path?  Some people don’t want to be paying off that mortgage for decades, all for the sake of some idea of stability. It’s almost like we’re being told to trade our entire lives for a piece of property.

But who says that’s the only way to live? Why not think outside the box and explore different options? Maybe renting a place is a better fit for your lifestyle, or perhaps you want to invest in something different, or in experiences rather than material possessions. It’s your life, after all, and you get to decide how you want to live it.

Get Married and Have Kids

Ah, the classic societal expectations of getting married and having kids before you turn 30. As if there’s some kind of magical clock that ticks louder and louder the closer you get to the big 3-0.

But there is no “right” age to get married or have kids. You should only do it when you’re ready and when it feels right for you. And if that means waiting until you’re 35 or 40, then so be it!

Getting married and having kids are major life decisions that require careful consideration and planning. It’s important to make sure you’re emotionally and financially prepared for the responsibilities that come with these choices.

Plus, mariage and kids are not the only path to happiness. Some people choose to remain single or have children later in life, while others opt for alternative forms of family.

In any case, don’t let ridiculous society expectations and arbitrary timelines dictate your life choices. You do you, boo! Choose the path that feels right for you, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Be Superficial, It’s Cool

Let’s talk about the world of social media. That endless scroll of carefully curated feeds and the pressure to be “cool” or “hot” according to the latest trends and challenges. Seriously, who came up with these fads anyway? And why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to conform to them?

Sure, it’s fun to stay up-to-date and participate in the latest craze, but let’s not forget that these trends are often just fleeting fads that come and go faster than the seasons change. Plus, trying to keep up with all of them can be exhausting!

And isn’t it more fulfilling to be true to yourself rather than trying to fit into some predetermined mold of what’s “in” right now? Why not embrace your quirks and unique interests, and share them with the world?

Girl jumping from a boat and ditching societal expectations

So, post the photos you love, follow the accounts that inspire you, and most importantly, be true to yourself. Life’s too short to worry about fitting into some narrow idea of what’s “cool”. Let your unique personality shine through and be proud of who you are!

Be Materialistic, It’s Even Cooler

We often live in a world that equates material possessions with success and happiness. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that having the latest gadgets, designer clothing, and luxury cars will bring us fulfillment and admiration from others – I am guilty of this too. But the truth is, material possessions are temporary and can never provide us with true happiness.

In the end, rather than fixating on material possessions, we should prioritize experiences and relationships. We should travel, try new things, and spend time with loved ones.

And what about the idea that we need to appear constantly busy and productive to be popular? Can’t we just take a break and enjoy a lazy Sunday for once? It’s time to embrace the art of doing nothing and recharge our batteries.

The same goes for traveling. Have you ever looked at those people running to tick off X destinations in 2 weeks? It’s exhausting just thinking about it! Instead, why not try slow travel?

At least, when you basically live out of a suitcase, you can’t afford to be too materialistic. You have no space!

Be Outraged by Everything

The “outrage culture” is the last one of our societal expectations. It’s everywhere these days – on social media, in the news, and even in everyday conversations. It seems like every day there’s a new thing that we’re supposed to be outraged about. Whether it’s a controversial commercial, a comment made by a public figure, or a societal issue that’s been blown out of proportion, the expectation seems to be that we must all be in a state of constant outrage.

But who really has the energy to be outraged about everything? It’s exhausting and ultimately, it’s not sustainable. The truth is, there will always be something to be outraged about if that’s what we’re looking for.

We could spend our entire lives being angry and upset over every little thing, but what good would that do? Instead, we should focus on the things that truly matter and make a difference in our lives and the world around us.

Of course, that’s not to say that we shouldn’t care about important issues or speak out against injustice. But we also need to be mindful of where our outrage is coming from and whether it’s really worth our time and energy. Sometimes, it’s better to take a step back and focus on the things that bring us joy and fulfillment, rather than getting caught up in the latest outrage du jour.

Life is too short to be constantly angry and upset about everything under the sun.

Sunny beach in Thailand to live a life far from societal expectations

Final Thoughts on Societal Expectations

Now that I have discussed some of the society expectations that we face, it’s also important to acknowledge that these norms exist for a reason. They help create a cohesive and respectful community where everyone’s needs are considered. Social norms like treating others with kindness and respect are essential for maintaining a functioning society.

However, this doesn’t mean that we have to follow all societal expectations blindly. It’s okay to challenge norms and create our own paths, as long as we do so with respect and consideration for others.

At the end of the day, the key is to strike a balance between following social norms and societal expectations, and living our lives on our own terms. We can still create our own paths and find happiness, while also being mindful of how our actions affect those around us.

So let’s strive to create a society where we respect each other’s boundaries, treat each other with kindness, and support each other in our individual pursuits.

As my mum always says, “The others can only do as much to you as you allow them”. So don’t let anyone tell you that you have to follow a certain script in order to have a fulfilling life.

The beauty of life is that it’s yours to create, so go out there and make it your own!

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