Just because ‘everyone else does it’ doesn’t mean you should join in. It may be ‘everyone’ around you drinking heavily and partying regularly, it may be ‘everyone’ procrastinating on purpose, it may be ‘everyone’ moaning about the state of the course without actively trying to change things.
Whatever you see ‘everyone’ doing, don’t be afraid to make your own decision. If you want to do something else, do something else. When it doesn’t affect anyone but yourself, make the choice your own.
Shunning the popular choice may be difficult and uncomfortable. Doubly so if your decision means giving up something you enjoy or challenging yourself to work harder. Remember, the popular choice doesn’t automatically make it the best choice.
It’s fine to forego the odd social outing or event. Even entirely respectable activities can be dropped in favour of enhanced focus, or a calmer lifestyle. Do you really need to be an active member of 7 societies, volunteering for 2 causes, and keeping down a part-time job, all while trying to stay on top of study?
Grasping what is truly important is harder than it seems. No wonder we look to ‘everyone’ for some sort of approval.
The decisions we make are never simple, because we — consciously or unconsciously — weigh up a number of issues that shouldn’t matter to us, yet do. It’s common to live in fear of disappointing another person, causing unintentional embarrassment or offence, and even destroying solid relationships that you’ve built up.
In other words, you don’t want to get things wrong.
But everyone gets stuff wrong all the time. The greatest people to have lived have done some incredibly dumb stuff too. And I’m sure they’d be first to admit it, even if they weren’t first to explain the acts in detail!
Don’t be scared of doing dumb things. You’ll only end up doing nothing at all. As crazy as the world seems, there are two major reasons why people cross the line:
- They cross the line intentionally. They weren’t scared of doing a dumb thing;
- Your version of ‘crossing the line’ is their ‘normal’. They didn’t even consider it a dumb thing.
The line is not fixed. The line is an illusion.
No matter what you do, someone will think you’re going too far and someone else will think you’re not going far enough. You need to be happy that you’re making the right decisions for you, not for other people. You still need to think your actions through; it’s how other people may feel that should be given less weighting. If your decision doesn’t directly affect other people, make it a do-it-yourself job all the way.
How have you moved away from an otherwise popular situation? Have you taken a different attitude and found it worked to your advantage?