Defying Convention- Lesson #1
The first rule to defying convention is: you should ignore the rules. Seriously, I think that should go without saying but things that should go without saying rarely can. The second rule: defying convention requires that you know what the conventions are. Third: consistency is desirable in most cases- e.g. on websites the search button should always be labeled the same thing, writing out numbers or using numerals, pick one, stick with it,- but relying on consistency will cause you to fall back into your sworn enemy, conventions.
I have had discussions with a number of people over the years about the existence of “normal”. The existence of an objective normal is not the issue. The issue is societal normalcy. Societal normalcy is an extension of societal expectations and conventions. As someone who is accused and guilty of ignoring societal conventions, I realized a long time ago that I could either continue to ignore conventions or have a normal life. The two are mutually exclusive. Since I continue to ignore those conventions I suppose my default choice was to forgo a normal life. The conventions and expectations I ignore include, but are not limited to, the following: I am a girl, live alone, and have a cat and yet I am not a “crazy cat lady” (I love my cat but our relationship is more of a mutually beneficial roommate one. Baby talk is insulting to both of our intelligences); I go out to eat by myself on a regular basis; I don’t get lonely very often, despite the fact that I am often alone; in fact, I enjoy and relish my time alone; I don’t own a car/drive nor do I want to; I do not dumb myself down when I interact with others; I tell the truth even when it is unwelcome/unwanted/ill-advised; and I know I am awesome and have no problem informing others of my awesomeness.
This flouting of conventions and my general lack of social skills has kept me fairly isolated. There are only a brave few who will risk becoming social pariahs to get to know me. That was a tad melodramatic since I have no idea if there are any societal consequences to being my friend. I’d like to think it’s worth it but that’s beside the point. The point is, all of this makes me the antithesis of the societal norm. Since I know that I will never be normal I dislike it when I get lumped in with those who are normal. I dislike it not because I think not being normal is cool and counterculture. I dislike it because people automatically form the wrong assumptions about me based on their experiences with normal people. Just because I know I am awesome does not mean that I think I am better than everyone else. The assumptions go further. Yes, I am intelligent, however, this does not mean that I believe that people who are ignorant of things I know are totally ignorant. Just because I am a girl does not mean I am an expert in makeup or fashion. On the other hand, just because what I wear rarely varies does not mean that I am ignorant of fashion. Being a feminist does not mean I insist on being called a woman all the time and when someone calls me a girl I do not proceed to lecture them. I call myself a girl. Not talking in front of strangers and generally ignoring the outside world does not mean I am haughty or bitchy, it means that I am shy and have developed coping skills to help me not be a mess of nerves all the time.
The lesson? Whatever else assuming does, it also hinders interactions and creates awkward dynamics. Since I am secure and introspective enough to know these things, have a certain inability to completely hide my feelings, and pathologically tell the truth, if you come across me, I will, out of the goodness of my heart, systematically disabuse you of any assumptions you started working with. If I think you’re worth my time. You have a choice to make: either make the effort to tolerate me long enough to get to actually know me and prove to me that you are worth my time and consideration or hold fast to your assumptions, make no effort to expand your knowledge of the myriad types of people in the world, and miss out on my awesomeness.
The other choice you have to make: to defy convention or not. How I live my life makes happiness possible for me. Spending no time on societal conventions means I have more time to spend with my amazing friends, eat good food, make pottery- in essence, I have more time to make happiness happen. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but for those of you who agonize over what the outside world thinks of you, consider what you could save yourself if you shifted your relationship to society.