One cold evening in Toronto, I was visiting the city and decided to use the public bathroom at the train station. In the men’s room, right behind me in line waiting for a free urinal, was a lady. As you can imagine, all eyes were on her. I turned around to give her a probing look. She didn’t look like the kind; she was very ladylike, dressed in a fur coat with perfect hair and make-up. She noticed my stare and decided to explain herself, “I’m so sorry, the women’s washroom is closed… I identify as a man toady”. To which I replied, “How convenient”. She laughed, I laughed, people in the washroom laughed, but that didn’t totally eliminate the awkwardness we all felt.
What happens when you use the wrong bathroom? What happens when you drive on the wrong side of the road? What happens when you decide to go without clothes in public? You get awkward stares, you get tongue-lashed, and you get arrested. Why? Because you’re going against the societal norms and when you do that, you should prepare your back for a lashing!
Those norms often keep us from doing immoral things, but sometimes all they do is merely keep us from doing different things than those around us. And if we, for whatever reason, one day decide to break from this norm, we receive a backlash from society too. Almost as though we’ve done something immoral or broken the law.
The majority is not always right. Especially concerning matters as rare as successful living, you cannot go by what the majority does. If not, everyone would have been successful already. No, the key is to keenly observe what the masses are doing, and do just the opposite! Everyone is spending countless hours in front of the television; you decide to read a book instead. Everyone is spending time online on social media, you decide to go out there, meet real people, socialize and make new friends. Everyone is dabbling in and out of casual sexual relationships; you decide to go into courtship with marriage as the goal. You will be looked at as weird, you will be made fun of, you will be criticized by those around you for being different. But by then you would have prepared your back for a lashing since you know what happens to those who swim against the tide.
We generally experience or relate with the world through: physical sensations, emotions or ideas. Most people – the masses – live their lives driven by the physical sensations of eating, having sex and generally being comfortable. The problem with living like that is it doesn’t stand you out from the crowd. Everyone experiences sex the same way, everyone tastes food the same way, everyone feels comfortable in front of the TV the same way. But what about emotions? We don’t all have the same feelings towards similar situations so that stands you out from some crowd at least. And ideas? Oh they are uniquely different from person to person.
So how about we kick it up a notch this year? If you are driven by physical sensations, decide to become more emotionally driven. If you are emotionally driven, decide to become more idea driven. Begin to step out of the environment that has dictated your norms to you all this while – norms designed to keep you down. You may decide to change your association. What do your friends talk about? You must have heard that small minds discuss other people; average minds discuss things, while great minds discuss ideas. Maybe begin to move away from those who decide they want to talk about other people all day.
But hey! Remember, you’ve been warned. You will receive backlash. You will get awkward stares like a beautiful lady lining up to use the men’s bathroom on a cold, wintry night. They won’t watch you just walk away from them and decide to be different, leaving them behind. No, they will attack. They will pull you back. That’s why all you have to do is kick it up a notch – just one notch. No need to start running when you’ve not even learnt to walk yet. One step at a time. Start making little changes. Turn off the TV, read a book, make a real life friend, discuss an idea. Just gradually move from crawling to walking to running and eventually to flying. After all, those who walk walk with many; those who run run with few; and those who fly, fly alone.
I wish you a very successful new year. Fly high as you stand out from the crowd!