Society and Me
Society and Me
From birth, we begin our process of socialization. We’re taught what is right and what is wrong; how we should behave, dress and speak. The notions of appropriate and inappropriate are driven deep into our brains, but who decides what is included in this societal syllabus?
For the most part it’s made up of norms that have trickled down through the years. Norms that could have been based in tradition, in necessity or in opportunity and convenience. Some of them carrying relevancy into our current age and others not. So if the rules that govern our society aren’t always fair, which a quick glance at the world seems to conclude, what does that mean about how we choose to view them or incorporate them? Do we conform or do we deviate?
The answer is not as black and white as the question. We live within this system, our communities and families are formed within its bounds. It is essential to learn how to navigate within the society that we live in, otherwise we are condemned to living on the outside in a permanent state of ‘deviance’. However to integrate these social norms as natural law is dangerous because they do not always allow for difference or independent thought.
I find the grey area more forgiving. I spent a year living in a cabin on a piece of land in Spain, which lacked both running water and electricity. It was an incredible experience, a chance to live in closer connection with the earth and farther away from the rigidities of regular society. Many of those residing there, had shunned what they saw as a flawed social system, choosing instead to live and remain outside of it. I remember one person who didn’t teach his child to use a toilet, allowing him to pull down his pants and go wherever he was. It struck me that this was another kind of indoctrination because the child was not being given a choice. He has been raised to live outside of society rather than being taught how to operate both inside and out.
The truth is, that it’s a good thing to want to belong to your community, as social beings we require community. The trouble comes when we try to contort ourselves to fit inside the very particular molds that society provides. The stress of not fitting in entirely, which none of us actually do because we’re all made up of our own little eccentricities, can create insecurities and anxieties. Developing severe social anxiety is a possibility when the weight of these rules becomes too great. We can become terrified of any misstep and choose to avoid social engagements, effectively removing us from the communities we are so desperate to fit into.
Without a solid foundation of self esteem and an internal locus of control it’s easy to get lost. We are given the rules, we learn how to function within them but we do have the choice to be different. By being aware that our society is flawed we have the opportunity to strive for difference. As with everything, it comes down to finding balance.
Conquering life isn’t about telling you that the world is perfect or that we should learn to be picture perfect members of society rather it’s about finding security in yourself and by extension finding a way to flourish despite a rigid society. Make your own way, challenge the world and as always, Conquer Life.