Wiping My Face of Society
Who would you be, if you'd never been told who to be? An article of self-reflection.
'Our normal expectations about reality are created by social consensus. We are taught how to see and understand the world. The trick of socialization is to convince us that the descriptions we agree upon define the limits of the real world. What we call reality is only one way of seeing the world, a way supported by social consensus.' - Carlos Casteneda
Social norms are not universal, nor are they immune to time, and with varying perceptions, one person's interpretation of a norm is not necessarily the norm. With that being said, I write this article without the ability to offer a resolution but rather to incite self-reflection, as the resolve must be personal.
Being human is hard, and certainly much harder when we calculate all of the expectations we are imbued with. Expectations are inescapable, they will always be there and always have been. Differing, vastly, between cultures and eras but always present. Arguably, never being erased only evolving. A quick look at history and we see some of the most influential people are influential because they challenged social expectations, they pushed the boundaries of a socially agreed upon reality even in the face of great adversity.
Pioneers in reality creation are significantly noted throughout history; from Galileo who played a major role in the scientific revolution of the 17th century, to Martin Luther King who challenged segregation in America in the 1960's, to more recent pioneers like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. I think something very important stands to be learned here, and maybe best said by Steve Jobs.
"Don't be trapped by dogma..."
"Your time is very limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
Reality adventurers (as I like to think of them) of the past and present have not been somehow miraculously shielded from societies consensus of reality. To much contrast, they saw it and questioned it. They saw dreams as more than just dreams, they dared to create a different reality. They believed in themselves more than they believed in a popular opinion of 'possible'. They denounced the "mask of society" and chose authenticity. The most brilliant people were thought mad before they proved themselves.
To achieve a self-created fulfilling reality, it is important to not overlook the great courage that is required. Peeling layers of expectations built up over years is no easy feat. Authenticity is often spoken of, but less often practiced. As a society, we tend to hide behind a mask to meet these expectations. We want people to believe and see the best of us. 'Best of us' being defined as what is socially acceptable and commended. Masks are colored with fancy cars, highlighted social media pages, resilient attitudes, happy marriages and fulfilling careers.
It's funny, isn't it? We are all struggling to keep up with expectations, to prove to others we are 'adulting' that we 'have our life together'. But when we look at some of the most influential people in the world, they abandoned what society currently appears to be chasing. Ultimately, surpassing the standards and expectations of society.
A moment of clarification: It is not necessary to set out to change the world. I imagine it a bit like eating the elephant, only accomplished one bite at a time. Change your reality, share your reality, and inspire.
"When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focused on my town. I couldn't change the town, and as an older man I tried to change my family. Now as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have changed my family. My family and I could have had an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation, and I could have indeed changed the world." - Anonymous
Maybe you like your reality, maybe you're already living your true dreams and have found no need for a mask - if this is the case, I congratulate you and urge you to continue. If you're reading this and thinking the concept is great but somehow unachievable or scares you, write down your wildest most impossible dreams. Seriously. Anything! But it must be something that comes from deep within. Something that you almost force yourself to stop thinking about. Something that makes you laugh at yourself. Societal norms and expectations have been engrained into us so deep that it feels unnatural to think outside of them. This is the roadblock.
At first, it will be uncomfortable as we peel the layers of society from our faces and thoughts in order to embrace a more authentic self. Often times we hit a second road block - our family, friends and other influential people in our lives. If it is our intention to expand our reality and push through uncomfortable feelings, it is easy to see how difficult it can be for others to hear and absorb something outside of the societally accepted reality. Change is universally accepted as uncomfortable. Don't stop, choose to pursue your reality anyway.
As children, we're told, "You can be whomever you want to be." And we run wild with ideas, the biggest ideas! As we age and expectations are ingrained deeper, our dreams slowly start getting smaller, more easily achievable, more adapted to 'reality'. My advice? Find your inner child and run with it. Who would you be, if you'd never been told who to be?Regardless of anyone else's opinions, regardless of any roadblocks (because there will be), fight for your own reality. Will you find the courage to wipe your face of society? Be a reality adventurer!