Expectations make no sense. Someone imagines an outcome and one is supposed to satisfy it ?
I was talking to a friend recently and he was lamenting about this so-called minimalistic lifestyle. He did not know too much about it and against my better judgement, I argued with him about how minimalism might be the closest solution to making one’s life simple and clutter free. Neither of us won the argument, as is often the case, but one thing that he said stuck with me.
One of his reasons for opposing minimalism, was that it goes against your peers’ expectations of you. His point was that one cannot deny the reasonable expectations that people around you have from you – do you own a decent car or do you go on exotic vacation often. You will lose their respect or be seen as a failure if you don’t satisfy these expectations. This is actually a valid point. It can even be expanded to things beyond just personal possessions; There are expectations attached to all components of our daily lives. Consider these:
- Your friends won’t hang out with you if you don’t behave in a certain way.
- Parents expect you to get a good education and a great job in some reputable firm and make more money than the children of your parent’s friends and neighbors.
- You are expected to play along with the office politics if you want to get ahead, or in some cases, even to just survive.
- You can come up with many more instances where you are always judged against expectations.
Your peers – friends, family, colleagues – judge you on a scale that defines the acceptable parameters for any potential member of that group. If you want to roll with these people you have to meet these criteria. This applies to schools, colleges, work place and relationships. By failing to meet these requirements you risk your social status, and by default, your membership to the clan and you forfeit the clan benefits like respect and approval. From my friend’s point of view, these benefits were non-negotiable. For him, to exist is to be respected by one’s peers and to be respected, one needs the membership.
These membership parameters – your salary, car, smart phone – were not written by some zen grand master. These were selected simply because they were the most common choices. Nobody expects you to have a Ferrari, unless you are living in a community where everyone has expensive sports cars. Often times people just do things because that’s how everyone does it. They don’t even consider that there are other, potentially better, options.
In reality, there are many types of memberships. There are all kinds of clans – peer groups – that have their own scale of parameters. If you can define your criteria, you can probably find a clan that matches those. Find which life choices are important to you and actively seek a clan that matches those attributes. Or better yet, create your own clan. You might even end up creating a religion. [see Christ, Jesus]
In most cases, these things are just tough choices. Choices that most people never explore, simply because they are inconvenient, impractical or unfashionable. There is no reason why everyone needs to do it.
Do you know Chris Guillebeau? He is the guy who one day decided that he won’t need a home, or a regular job, or a car like everyone else. He decided to use his time to visit as many countries as possible (the count is more than 150 now). He wrote A Brief Guide to World Domination – a free e-book about truly taking over the world’s collective mind. In the world of blogs he is kind of a big deal.
Over at his ‘Art Of Non-Conformity’ blog, he lists things that are optional.
- Credit Cards
- Bank Accounts
For many, these are indispensable items in today’s world. Phones and Email are on that list, for god sakes. Those are mandatory membership parameters right? Not for Chris. And I would guess the same for any one who wants to live an unconventional life.
An important thing about making tough choices, is that you are opposing the majority. The majority really doesn’t like it when someone does that. Not unless you prove to be successful. Then suddenly, the majority integrates your choice and makes it conventional wisdom. Until someone else comes along to buck the expectation. So there really is no point in worrying about the majority’s immediate reaction.
Like Chris says, live the life you want to live. There is no point in living it for others.
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I am on a blog-a-day-for-a-year crusade. Keep me motivated with your comments. Or show me a good place to sell my old video games.