Life is conventionally unconventional, and that’s o.k.. If you asked me to tally up all of the sleep lost because of something in my life that wasn’t going in accordance with conventionality, I’m not sure that I would have enough fingers and toes.
The timeline of life achievements, that we often grow up believing must be completed by a set of predetermined ages, is my biggest struggle with conventionality. When I turned 20 years old, I called my mother crying because I thought I hadn’t kept up with where I was supposed to be in life already. Society paints the picture perfect life, and happiness, as the life of a person that has graduated university by 22, is financially stable by 25, married by 26, and a kid or two copped out by age 30.
It’s to be acknowledged that in reality I have not kept up with conventionality. I turned 22 this past May, and I do not have an undergraduate degree yet. However, the difference between my 20-life-crisis, and now, is that I am content with not having kept up with societal expectations and the conventional timeline. For myself, it took a perfect stranger yelling at me in the middle of Bourbon Street, to re-address the emphasis and importance that I placed on following a conventional timeline, and how I defined my happiness in accordance.
Here are a few things that I have learned since reassessing the importance of following conventionality:
Mental health is more important than fulfilling societal expectations. It is important to note, that we are only capable of achieving what is in our abilities. For example, it is beyond my ability to be married by 26 and have children by 30, if I have not met a partner that I feel compelled to do so with. It is not worth wrecking your mental capacity with anxiety, if you have reached an age that society believes you should have fulfilled certain criteria by, and have not.
Shit happens, life gets delayed, but it still goes forward. Life happens, and life happens fast. Sure, we can plan for most things in life but there is always going to be a time, or two, when we are caught off guard. When we get caught with no plan, or a plan that did not work, we tend to be stalled moving forward and seeing past it. When I put conventionality behind me, I was able to see past the delay in my timeline of achievements and move forward more confidently, with less anxiety about keeping up.
Happiness is a mood, not a destination. I don’t think it is presumptuous to write that, more times than not, we think of happiness as a destination. I’m not sure where along the road it is that we lose track of the fact that happiness is a mood, and not a destination. Though, I do believe that this notion of conventionality plays a part in the distraction. It is easy to get lost in the idea that you will achieve happiness through success; through achieving the conventional, picture perfect life that society has defined for us. It is easy to get lost in the idea that body goals, a high salary and social status will fix everything. However, it is important to remember that being happy is not permanent. If you can attest to being happy 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, then please comment which drug you are on so that the rest of us can partake in that magic solution! Like being tired or hungry, happiness is a mood that comes, and likewise goes.
I starting finding happiness more often, when I stopped viewing it as a destination to be reached. When I stopped viewing happiness as a destination, I became content, and even appreciative, that life is conventionally unconventional.