“The opposite of courage in our society today is not cowardice…it is conformity”
This has been an idea that I have been contemplating for the better part of 3 weeks.
We have come to believe that there is a certain path that a man must walk in order to be a COMPLETE human being. A path that almost everyone follows. A social blueprint, if you will. We do certain things that may not may us happy and they may not even make sense as to why we do it, but we do them because that is what everyone is doing so we do it believing it is the right thing to do.
This blueprint can be seen as something along the lines of:
Birth – childhood – preschool – primary school – high school – college/university – job – marriage/kids – retire
This is the bare skeleton structure of the social blueprint. Basically, go to school so that you can get into a good high school, so that you can get accepted into a good university, so that you can find employment in a high paying job and eventually you can find a man or woman to settle down with until the end of time, preferably in THAT order.
This blueprint is given to us at an early age through our education systems and parents. In fact, school is one of the biggest culprits in culminating the idea that a man or woman has to follow the blueprint in order to achieve fulfillment later in life. The very nature of this idea suggests that a man will only be fulfilled once he reaches the end of his blueprint.
Keep in mind, there is nothing wrong with the social blueprint if this is what you want in your life. If you feel happy and fulfilled doing the things suggested in the social blueprint then feel free to live to your life in any way you desire.
However if you are following the blueprint simply due to the idea that you believe it is the ONLY way to live ones life then there is a problem. If you are missing certain elements of the social blueprint in your life and you believe this makes less of a human being then that is also a problem. The social blueprint should only be something to dream of and strive for if it is what you truly want for yourself. Which is why we need to decide for ourselves what is best for us. Do not just do something because you feel you must at the expense of your happiness and individuality in order the satisfy those around you or to simply fit in. Self introspection is very important in this case and we must truly know and understand ourselves in what we truly want in life.
Alan Watts, a famous philosopher, founded the idea that life should be considered like a musical composition. The point of any composition was NOT to get to the end, or else orchestras would simply play as fast as possible in order to reach the end. And some might even go out on stage and ONLY play the finale, just one loud crashing chord and the composition is complete. That is not how music works at all. The problem arises is that the education system does not reflect this ideal, and the ideals are embedded in our minds at a young age, that we need to follow this certain path with this THING in mind that we are moving towards. So what we do is, we drop the child off in preschool and we dangle this THING in front of him until he begins moving. Once that was completed, we head on to primary school and from there we are enticed to move onto the next step which is high school. Once we are done with that we are told the next step is to go to college or university where we can obtain a qualification. Once that is completed we are told to find a good job with decent pay. And all the while you’re chasing this THING….All this work was preparing you reach that BIG THING. And then we do well in our jobs and we meet certain quotas, then new quotas arrive that we need to achieve and we fulfill those too and we keep going and going and going and FINALLY after about 30 or 40 years….we arrive at the THING we were working towards all this time. And you think to yourself, “I’m here!! I’ve arrived!!’ .That THING you thought for so long would lead to happiness and fulfillment. But the strange thing is…you do not feel very different. You don’t feel fulfilled. And you hold your head in your hands and wonder to yourself if this was all a big hoax, and it was a hoax, a dreadful hoax. Because this whole time we were thinking that the journey of life was about the end. And the entire point of this pilgrimage was to get that end. And that end could have been success, a large bank account, getting married etc. But in the end we look back and realize that the entire point of life was like a musical composition. Instead of focusing on getting to the end…the entire time we were meant to sing and dance while the music was being played.
I myself am guilty of this. An eye looking towards a better future instead of finding fulfillment in the moment. Making the most of the present moment, which is all we have to work.
After all, Tomorrow is no place to place our better days.
But why do we do this though?
Alan Watts suggested our education system was to blame for this phenomenon. I agree with his presumption and also believe media plays a huge role as well. We see television shows and films depicting people who can only be happy once they have achieved certain things. These people are always having adventures and dramas, always involved in relationships, getting rich and being the hero. In life we may believe that the same things will make us happy. We have become indoctrinated into believing that our life can be like the ones on television and thus we end up dressing like them, talking like them and acting like them believing it will make us happy. We are fooling ourselves in believing that a false reality can be implemented into the real one.
While in school we may have been taught how to get to the next step in our life. But it does not make an effort to teach us how to make our OWN decisions on what the details of the next step should be. How to think critically about things in our life. We may have been told by the elders around us that we are special and we must strive for what makes us happy in life. We decided to do what we wanted to do and be who we wanted to be without the concern of others until they made us feel out of place. We squash the head of that idea of being special once we realized that being different comes with the price of being ostracized. We were considered strange and unfit to those around us because at the time we were unaware of the social blueprint. We did not know what everyone else was doing until we were criticized by those around us for being different. It became easier to be like the others. To do what they were doing without wondering why it was the correct way of living. We just did it…because everybody else was doing it and came without the price of being an outcast.
I suppose at a young age, ‘fitting in’ is very important. It is comfortable, it offers less challenges. So we continue with the charade for long into our lives. In university we are expected to live a life of independence. We need to travel and experiment with all sorts of unsavoury things as it is considered to be the best time of our lives. After university we are expected to find a well-paying job. It does not matter if it does not fulfill you, most peoples’ jobs don’t fulfill them so why should yours be any different?
We then need to find a wife or husband because once we reach a certain age, people might look at you strangely to see you’re not in a stable relationship. So we simply settle for whatever comes along that seems like it can continue the trend of your current life. After all, every media production that comes into the world shows how beautiful and exciting love is. Why should yours be any different?
Then many years later, we feel empty and unfulfilled and by this point it may be too late to accept how special you are and you cannot allow yourself to change at this point.
After all, it is more difficult to unlearn than it is to learn.
In our society we are running a race…against everybody around us. Most the people do not know what they are running for, they are simply running because everyone else is. We are running the race and we not even coming 1st or 2nd. We are not even in the top 10. We are just somewhere in the middle.
What if we decided to run our own race? Follow our own intuitions. There will not just be a chance of coming first. You are GUARANTEED to come first and not only that, we will enjoy the process of running. Instead of chasing happiness, we will grow it beneath our feet. We will belong to a minority who rises above the plateau of conformity that society has dictated upon us.
We were never born to fit in. We were born to stand out, to be different and to achieve different things. Some of us may be in a point in our life where we have to complete a step to what we believe we need to complete in order to fit the social blueprint and find fulfillment and satisfaction. This may be your ‘need’ to get married, your ‘need’ to be in a serious relationship, your ‘need’ to find a well-paying job that you stay in until you retire. You ‘need’ to own that nice car. Your ‘need’ to fit in with the rest so you don’t feel like you are missing out on something. The list is endless. Why do we need to conform to this blueprint? Simple. We believe it will make us happy. But the happiness we gain from this will be short lived. We will come to realize the truth within the lie we are living eventually. We believe that our life is a journey and the next step on the blueprint is what will make us happy. We are looking around at what others have and we are comparing it to what we do not have and comparing yourself to others is the biggest insult to your individuality. We have become so empty inside that we don’t even want to be a part of our own life and throw it aside in order to fit the blueprint. Be happy all the time. Suppress your inner most desires. Do what everybody expects. Do what others have decided will lead you to a fulfilling life.
The world does not work that way.
We as human beings need to forge our own blueprints, a race for ourselves and only ourselves to run. We need to remember that no man was created equal and no two people are walking the same path. We all have different battles to face along the way so STOP ALL THE COMPARISONS!!!
The joy of life is not the end point. It is the journey, it has always been the journey. Some of us try to skip steps so we can get ahead to the end stage. They miss out on life. They miss out on the vital elements our existence. Every struggle makes us stronger, every scar improves our character and every loss gives a new sense of appreciation of the world. Why are we in such a hurry to get to the end of the blueprint?
Do we not trust our OWN instincts on what we feel is best for us?
When was the last time we asked the difficult questions to ourselves?
What is it that I really want?
What is it that I really want in a relationship?
What is it that I want to achieve?
What is it that makes me happy, more than anything?
What is it that will make me happy to get out of bed in the morning?
What sort of job will fulfill me?
And if you do not know the answers, explore yourself and the world until you figure out what YOU want.
Now is the time for us to be brave. To find joy within the journey of our life instead of looking for the happiness at the end of the ride. To understand that life has no set of rules that you must abide by. No timeline for you to hit important milestones nor an order for these milestones, besides, milestones are only milestones if you allow them to be. The world needs more people who are not afraid to be the men and woman they were born to be. And as I’ve said, we were born to stand out.
So set your own blueprint…run your own race… and WIN…!!