Thursday, January 28, 2016

Normality is over-rated

This article here really tugs at my heart.


I found myself always trying to unlearn the things that I've learnt in school, or from others, so that I can take in new information and assimilate them into my consciousness. The new illiterate are not those who cannot read, but those who cannot unlearn what they had learnt and thus adapt to ever changing circumstances.


When I started my job as a tutor, I wasn't taking a normal job. A normal job is a 9 to 5, wearing long sleeves and a tie, with a suitcase and going towards the city area. You get paid every month, with occasional bonus plus benefits. I always say this: my job as a tutor is so 'abnormal' that even my parents didn't recognise that I'm working until quite recently, especially when I was still living with them. I get calls to find a proper job all the time while I was still living with them. The pressure to conform is very very real.


There are plenty of other normal things that normal people normally do, like retiring at 60 or even eating 3 meals a day. During medieval times, people only eat 2 meals a day, or once if they are poorer! A lot of such norms are really social constructs, which is obvious and common sensical when we're trapped in our current society. There are societies out there who treat their children as mini adults, letting them have all the sex they want (interestingly, they contrasted our society and theirs - ours have all our hunger satisfied but there's no warmth in our relationship. Theirs have no warmth in their bellies) and no mothering over dangerous things like knives or fire. In fact, most kids there have scars to remind them about the danger. If you know about such societies, it does make you question over what is considered normal. If you like more of this, go read "The world until yesterday" by Jared Diamond.


And thus the point of travelling is to experience new cultures. If you want to travel with the cultural baggage that you had, then you just did an out of body kind of travelling. Your body flies across great spans of oceans to arrive at the destination, but your mind is still as closed as a clam back in your self imposed confinement. Maybe reading more will help, rather than travelling more.




Now, I'm not saying everyone should go out and break out of the norm. Going against the norm simply because you want to be contrarian is as sheepish as going together with the herd. It's like Kepcorp dropping like flies and because you want to be a contrarian, and be greedy when others are fearful, you just buy it. Seeing the world in dual choices is silly. If people are not buying A, you don't have to buy A - you can buy B, C, D or E. The important part here is not to be reactionary. You see people do this, you react by following them or not following them without much consideration.


I think we need to examine the norms that we are following unconsciously, and examine them critically to see if their values align with ours. Only then will yours decisions be truly yours and not the product of some reactionary decision you've made by looking at what others did or did not do.

14 comments :

Singapore Man of Leisure said...

LP,

After reading your post, I suddenly feel like a fake, a fraud, an imposter, a poseur.

Then I chanced upon my reflection in the mirror.

Man, I do look great!

It's all good. I still love myself :)

coconut said...

lp, i really have to say this,

every time after reading your post i got "black out" in my eyes!! i realise it is your page back ground which is dark. why you choose such a dark background??

you know i have to quickly switch from page to page and the black out can cause seriious trouble in what i do.

your post thought interesting but your background really piss me off haha....

temperament said...

If you can think and come to accept that your "normality" is your own and no one else, you have conquered your inner self.
Main stream , side stream, insider, outsider, in the end who really cares about you?
Yourself.
By what i say the song "Outsider" that's me.
Always not because i want but i am i.
i have come to accept myself long long ago.
Peace!

SMK said...

Excellent.

"Now, I'm not saying everyone should go out and break out of the norm. Going against the norm simply because you want to be contrarian is as sheepish as going together with the herd. It's like Kepcorp dropping like flies and because you want to be a contrarian, and be greedy when others are fearful, you just buy it. Seeing the world in dual choices is silly. If people are not buying A, you don't have to buy A - you can buy B, C, D or E. The important part here is not to be reactionary. You see people do this, you react by following them or not following them without much consideration."

being a responsible blogger, by qualifying your main point, i like it.

the thing is: nothing in the human constructed world is fixed.
things change all the time.

B said...

Hi LP

The way I see "Normal" as a definition is what the majority of people does.

This includes working 9-5 in an office nutshell and waiting to receive paycheck everyday. If you don't do that, you are weird.

If you are in a nude beach but you are the only clothing person, then you are weird.

We are only "normal" in our circle of friends.

Sillyinvestor said...

LP,

My 2 cents:
Being yourself equal or bigger than being yourself.

We kid ourselves when we say we can live the way as we like, without reference totally to external world

Being myself is simply having a internal values/ moral compass that is constantly changing and bombarded by the external surroundings, but nonetheless is the only compass used when guiding directions and decisions

Sillyinvestor said...

* typo first sentence-
Being normal =/> being yourself ??

la papillion said...

Hi SMOL,

Don't say like that leh haha! Don't think you follow the crowd though, so you're already thinking for yourself already ;)

la papillion said...

Hi coconut,

I think you must have mentioned it once or twice before :) Pai seh pai seh, but my vampire eyes more suited for such dark background. Even my hp and monitor are set to the dimmest. If it's white background, I will 'white out'!

la papillion said...

Hi temperament,

That being said, I think it takes time to come to know yourself better. I think we all went through the stages where we find security in the crowd. Then slowly from experience, you'll realise that there are times when it's better to go alone, and so we learn. I think my career is one of the most loneliest job - no colleagues at all. But hey, I really like it, and nobody can say otherwise.

I might not do it if I don't have that confidence in myself when I started.

la papillion said...

Hi SMK,

Haha, glad you like it, and thks for your encouragement!

la papillion said...

Hi B,

They say birds of the same feather flock together mah, haha :) I agree, we're weird in our group, because I'm pretty some my friends are not like that. This is grouping due to common interest, and not joining a crowd and following. Big difference :)

la papillion said...

Hi SI,

Definitely. I don't think we can isolate ourselves to the point where there isn't any external influence. Hermit meh? Live in forest ah? haha

But my point is that we should try to evaluate those things we follow and see if it fits our values. I give another example: in the past, for my job, I was quite fixated on having proper lunch and dinner at fixed hours. To the point of not having lessons during those times. I realised I was unknowingly following what others are doing without really evaluating my own circumstances. So now i eat earlier or later so I won't have to fight with the crowd for seats. I can also eat at 11am or 2pm, doesn't make a difference. My life is flexible and so I shall be.

I guess the goal is to reduce as many influence that we follow without knowing why. Reduce, not eliminate totally.

Rolf Suey said...

Hi LP,

I will never deviate since day one of my blog : "Yourself" - find him, know him, and love him.

Only then, u can appreciate n spread ur love to people around.

To be honest, I m contrary to u. I m those who like to travel out of home to experience n expose n taste. It's my character.

Perhaps it still go back to "what is good for me, may not be good for u!"

So normal or not? hmm.... as long as the person knows his/her own strengths/passion n do what is the best for himself/herself w/o hurting others.

First criteria of know urself still pre-requisite though. And need lots of soul searching n knowledge to be able to know that. Not as easy as many think!