For about the first 20 years of your life you are taught to think a certain way. Whether it be by your family, your education, or society in general, you are told information and for the most part you don’t question it. In my experience once I turned 20/21 (my current age), is when I started to question the things I’ve been taught. I am not saying that I completely rejected everything I’d been taught and started with a clean slate, but I am saying that I now have the knowledge and experience to at least question what I’ve been told. The things you’ve been taught are forever ingrained in your mind until you take the time to reteach yourself.
Society has taught me that in order to be happy you must conform. Conform to beauty ideologies, lifestyle ideologies, consumption ideologies, the list continues. I’ve been told what to wear, how to look, what to enjoy doing, where I should work, all of which associated around the idea of status. That I should have a high status, equivalent to having a lot of money so that I can afford to live the way I’ve been told I’m supposed to.
Challenging these ideas, and changing your view about them, is not easy. Facing judgement from society for living differently than the standard, is not easy. Feelings of guilt, shame, and not belonging really weigh on you and continue to make you feel dissatisfied and inadequate further. In order to shake these feelings you need to determine what matters to you, the things you value and the ideas you believe in, all while understanding that you will be faced with criticism, confusion, and maybe even disdain. This requires constant assessment of your actions and reactions, which can be exhausting. Easy is following the path set out for you, easy is doing what you’re told, but easy is not fulfilling. It is much easier to float through life unsure of your values or direction, but it is uninspiring.
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know how to turn off the switch of wanting to imitate the life society glorifies. I don’t think anyone does. The only way to switch it off is to become aware of your thoughts, your likes, what and who you want to be, and then make small choices daily that reflect the person you aspire to be. I heard a quote that has given me the permission to retrain my mind and become the person I want to be, “Let go of anything that does not serve you”, this includes negative thoughts and ideologies that don’t align with my ideal self. I hope you can use this post as permission, to retrain your mind, break away from the things that dissatisfy you, and live more intentionally.