Tuesday, November 8, 2011

- Social Expectations -

"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom."

-Bertrand Russell

This holds for those who look at social rules and expectations and run, as well as those who cling to them like life-saving ropes.

Social rules and expectations were demons for me when I was a little kid. I didn't understand them, and they had no empathy for me. We didn't get along very well. By the time I understood them and could use them as tools in interacting with others, I had already figured that most of the social rules were meant for cultural checks and balances. You could also use them to pull strings and make people dance like puppets if you were really cognizant of what the other people were feeling and what the social atmosphere was like.

All of us here are in our twenties and either in college or freshly out of it. Most of us wouldn't feel a desperate need for those social rules. We're discovering who we are. From day one, I never felt that I was meant to fit in with those social rules. There are a very few specific instances in my life where I felt that I was human, and not just serendipitously fitting in. I learned to crave the feeling, but part me always feels alien and distant when hanging out with others. Ah well, you can't have everything you want.

 Thanks to that distant part of me, I gained much more insight as to what it means to be yourself over the years. It also makes me more jaded and skeptical to when people declare that they don't need social boundaries or limitations. I've seen that be the excuse for a lot of self-destructive behavior and a lot of hurtful behavior directed at others--especially with myself. It also helped me see that there is value to the stability that social expectations bring. If you can live without them, great. If you try to sweep them out from under the feet of others, that's rude and not at all charitable. If you want to have a large effect on others through politics or a given message, you have to pay your emotional and social taxes to King Moderate--no one wants to hear an extremist except for other extremists, and the label wouldn't exist if the very word 'extreme' didn't have the connotation of rarity. If you don't care about having others hear a message that you mean to spread, well, good for you, enjoy your life however you'd like to. I mean that in the most sincere way.

This year, I threw aside continuing a sparkling record of academia in pursuit of love. I still don't regret it. Social expectations have been instilled in all of us for most of our lives, as far as I'm aware. Sometimes I feel nervous for riding the waves of temp work and not having a stable job, but despite hormone replacement therapy and my namesake grandmother passing away, this is one of the best times of my life.

I love feeling this free, even if I'm riding on winds of the unknown. Fear will not touch me.


  1. I love when people have no regrets over following their hearts--how can you regret letting your soul be free?

    I like how you show perspectives on both sides--clinging to social expectations as well as completely rejecting them. It's interesting to investigate ideas about how something such as expectations can be harmful as well as helpful or necessary.

  2. People sacrifice the freedom of their souls all the time -- for duty, for love, for comfort. I had a spiritual experience once where I had to offer up the sacrifice of future truth for salvation. If I could have knocked the entity offering me that choice flat on his ass, I would have.

    I don't like seeing just one side of an issue being illustrated. It leaves too much room for harm.

  3. As for what I chose, I did with words what I wished to do with my hands--I flatly told him no and pushed him aside.