I’ve lived two lives. One of presumed relative health, within the bounds of societal norms. The other of ‘ill-health’ – free from the shackles of norms, judgment and shame. Ask me to choose the life of my preference, and you will assuredly hear my preference to be the latter. For once I released myself from the bonds of societal norms and expectations, I rearranged my life to work for me, not against me.
When we strive to live up to the expectations of others, we fall prey to the ‘truths’ of others. In this case, I use ‘truths’ lightly, as it is more likely you will find these truths laden with judgment, backed by fear. Energized perhaps by unlived dreams or fear of not belonging.
We fall into patterns, patterns spewed by societal and cultural norms. We worry not that these norms are our truths. We are out to achieve, to succeed, to live our best life. Yet something feels off. One achievement after another leads to the demand for more achievement. There is never an end. The treadmill of life seems circular. Always more. More. MORE.
Until one day, by choice or force, we step back. Is this our life? How did I get here? Why am I here? The truth now lies clear, it was all a lie.
But alas, you feel the nudging of more. It’s still there… within you. You know it, you feel it. It calls to you.
Do you dare follow its lead?
This is where YOU have choices to make. Real, life-changing choices.
Do you accept your status, as part of the societal highway, ever forging ahead, swerving in the chaos of traffic? Crowded to capacity.
Or do you decide to dig deep, to learn your truths, to examine every aspect of your life, and ultimately, forge your own path? A path so unique no other has lived it.
What calls to you? Right now, choose. Do you choose to be on the highway guarded by norms, rules and signs guiding your way, or do you choose to pull out a compass, examine your orientation and create a life unique to you?
A Life within Societal Norms
My life within norms was filled with successes and achievements. Eighteen years in the corporate world, in an industry in which I had no interest. I earned my M.B.A. and built my 401K. I led large projects and achieved successes; bonuses came my way. Recruiters began calling regularly, my skills were needed halfway across the country. I partook in rush hour traffic. One hour after leaving my front door, I arrived at my cubical. A cubical… the name even feels like a box. During the winter season, early mornings and late nights at the office meant I did not see the light of day. Health issues, present at birth, continued to drive themselves into the forefront. I did not heed the warning. I was on the highway, pushed and prodded by the likes of those around me.
Perhaps your story is similar. Perhaps it is very different. Either way, if there is any familiarity in any aspect or area of your life, consider this a calling to examine the road you’re traveling.
Road Signs that Societal Norms are Guiding Your Life
- You go about each day, your routine is your map
- You accept unwelcome chaos in your daily life
- You strive to always be busy, life’s demands must be met
- Your personal health is almost an afterthought to your career, the needs of your family, others
- You knowingly or unknowingly allow others to dictate your path, be it your education, your career, or whether to have a family
- You strive to be happy, to find contentment
- You question whether life balance can truly exist
- You struggle to define who you really are
- Life is meant to be achieved
A Life of Freedom from Societal Norms
A life of freedom finds many forms. Initially, we get there by choice or by force, but staying there is by choice. Always by choice. A life of freedom requires vulnerability, it requires that we step back and sit with ourselves again. We may not know where to begin, only that the calling is deep, and the alternative is a death, a different kind of death. A death of our soul. Slowly, we relearn how to trust ourselves. We strengthen our bonds with ourselves, freeing ourselves from the bonds of others, from the bonds of expectations, from the bonds of fear. We know, in our heart of hearts, that this journey is ours. We redefine success. The parameters are loosened… and deepened. Life takes on new meaning. We are involved at a much deeper level.
Road Signs that You are Living the Life You are Meant to Live
- You accept uncertainty
- You know your values, your truths
- You accept failure as part of your path
- You live with curiosity, your resilience is strong
- You know your needs and build your life around those needs
- You are driven by purpose; you know you have much to offer
- Your personal well-being takes priority, you understand that only when you are at your best, can you live the purpose you are meant to live
- You experience much inner peace, you share joy
- You are grateful for your successes and achievements, they are important, but they are not the only goal
- You understand that true life balance not only is possible, but that it involves all aspects of your well-being
- You are… your own person
- Life is meant to be enjoyed
Again, I ask, with freedom knocking at your door, do you dare follow its lead? Are you ready to make real, life-changing choices or will you continue your journey along life’s superhighway, where exits are spaced and easily passed by?