Convention

I recently read a blog post and it struck such a chord with me, that I’m still thinking about it days later. The post was entitled Embracing Territorial Living by Four Pillar Freedom. The essence of the post discussed hierarchical vs. territorial living. Hierarchical being you live your life constantly thinking about how others perceive it and territorial being you live for yourself, doing what makes you happy without worrying about what others think.

“People don’t need to understand why you live the way you live. You don’t have to explain yourself to others. You don’t have to constantly provide updates on your social media to show the world you’re happy.” – Four Pillar Freedom

The concepts of hierarchical vs. territorial were a completely new way of looking at things for me but it instantly made so much sense. I often rail against societal convention and don’t like to live my life based on other people’s expectations. It’s been a gradual progression for me to live territorially. But I’m now at the point in my life where I give no fucks about what anyone thinks about the way I live my life.  

Bucking The Trend

I’ve mulled over writing about societal convention for a while now and touched on it briefly in my semi-rant about why we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. The maddening thing is, I think the root cause of why I’ve held back from writing about it, is because I perceive that others will think I’m just having a rant. So, I’m holding back because of what others might think. No longer, though! Zero fucks given.

Societal conventions are endemic – there is no aspect of your life that societal convention can not touch.

You’re with your partner a long time – questions are asked about when you’ll tie the knot. But you might be just fine as you are. You both might believe you don’t need a piece of paper to make things ‘official’.  Don’t ask someone when they’ll be getting married. It’s none of your business.

You might be married, entering your 30s and be DINKs and then the questions start rolling in about when you’ll be having children. You both might have already decided you’re happy as you are and don’t want to have children or may have tried, experienced loss or infertility and decide to stop trying. Don’t ask someone when they’ll be having children. It’s none of your business.

But say you did have a child and are DIKs, the questions will start up about when you’ll be adding to your brood. You might be happy with one, can’t afford another, experience loss or secondary infertility. Don’t ask someone when they’ll be having more children. It’s none of your business.

You live in a flat, quite happily, but are asked when you’ll be moving into a house. Or you rent and you’re asked when you’ll be buying. But you might not want a house and the associated higher cost of living with a larger square footage. You might be just fine renting and see no reason why you should get a mortgage. Don’t ask people about their living arrangement. It’s none of your business.

You might decide to take a career break or sabbatical to travel or work on a passion project. People will ask if you’ve gone mad – leave your job?! Why would you do that? Maybe because a paycheck doesn’t define your existence or your worth. You aren’t less of a person because you don’t receive a wage every month. If you have enough savings/assets to cover yourself so you can afford to take a break from a paid job to engage in something you’re passionate about then go for it. It’s no one else’s business how you live your life. 

You might be saving for early retirement, aiming to leave the conventional 9-5 in your 30s or 40s. You might hold back your plans from your family and friends knowing they won’t understand or pass judgement. Maybe you don’t share your plans or announce your transition to early retirement until you are leaving your job. But inevitably when you do, the questions will come – people ask if you’re OK, there might  be whispers behind your back that perhaps you’re having a mental breakdown or that it won’t last and you’ll be back to work in a year.

I can just hear the judgy voice now… “you mark my words. It’s a phase. They can’t live like that the rest of their lives”. Um, how about you mind your own business and let people live their own lives. So what if the stock market blows up so spectacularly that they lose all their money and do have to go back to work. It wouldn’t be your problem, it’s theirs, so why pass judgement in the first place?

Why does it matter to you how someone lives their life?

It’s a Process

I’m still learning to not be judgmental of others. It’s a process. It shouldn’t matter to me the way someone else lives their life. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being no judgement whatsoever and 10 being Judgy Mc.Judgerson, I’d say I started at a 4 but am probably at a 1 now.

So, I don’t pass judgement on how others live their lives and I give zero fucks about what anyone thinks about my life. But I still have issues regarding societal conventions and my nearest and dearest.

If I lived my perfect life, I would not receive any gifts from family or friends on my birthday or at Christmas. I don’t want things, I have everything I need. I don’t want people spending their money on me. But they continue to, even though I don’t ask for anything. My wishes aren’t respected because other people think they should be buying me something.

I don’t want to have to celebrate Christmas. No, I don’t want to have to talk about how crazy the Black Friday sales are or if I’ll be snapping up a bargain. I don’t want to do an Easter Egg hunt. I don’t want to do anything that I don’t want to/believe in, yet at the moment, I see no other way out than to participate because of other people’s expectations.

No, I’m not a miserly old witch who has no joy in her life. I just don’t want to have to get excited about things I don’t want to or to have to celebrate certain things just because I’m told to by society.

I find at the moment, I can live my life 90% of the way I want. And the other 10% is made up purely of ‘events’ that society has deemed it necessary to celebrate/participate in. I have no interest in trying to change my family and friends opinions/perspectives/beliefs. What I am interested in, is trying to get them to respect my beliefs to enable me to live closer to how I truly want to.

Maybe I’ll never get there and maybe I need to let my frustration go with trying to live how I truly want to. Maybe, no matter how hard you try, societal convention will always find a way to worm it’s way in. But, just like it’s been a process to achieve territorial living, perhaps it’ll just be a process to try and achieve true autonomy in my life.

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