People’s Expectations Are Stealing Your Freedom

One of my biggest issues with modern/western society is how trapped it can make many of us feel.

The structure of our days are very much decided for us far in advance, and we almost certainly know what our day will look like on any given weekday in the near future. You get up, eat your breakfast, go to work, and behave like a completely normal and dependable …… robot! And repeat.

There is no spontaneity, there is no creativity and there is no sense of control over our own immediate destiny — it’s all already decided for us.

Unless you become your own boss, of course, which makes entrepreneurship the most admired carrier path of our time.

But in reality, most of us cannot be successful entrepreneurs. Many of us doesn’t even want to be one.

The truth is, most people just want to live a quiet and “regular” life, without constantly being pushed around, and have some sense of freedom and control.

It’s like that famous Henry Thoreau quote:

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation

But what is figuratively pushing us all around?

I think that expectations of society in general, is a main driver behind people losing their freedom.

- We are all expected to have demanding but regular jobs, “when we grow up”, so we can “contribute to society”.

- We are expected to own a regular house (this will cost you most of your freedom).

- We are expected to have kids, cars, loans, educations and nice-looking clothes.

Before we know it, most of us has fallen victim to these expectations, and we are now economically tied on hands and feet, to the point where the rest of our lives have been decided for us.

What most people don’t realize about making grand purchases, like buying a house, is that they aren’t just obligated to give up a part of their paycheck every month. They also forget to account for the fact that they need to do this for the next 30 years — every month! — and that they also have to maintain the damn thing.

I am not by default opposed to getting a house, car or child, if this is your big dream. I’m just here to remind you, that many of these norms are MASSIVE commitments, and they will have a decisive impact on the rest of your life — guaranteed.

My philosophy in life is, shortly put, “optimize for freedom — always”, and I am therefore highly skeptical about many of these concepts.

Again, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with committing yourself to something. I am just wondering, how so many relatively conservative people, can be so eager to throw themselves into these super risky commitments?

Risky meaning: you can’t possibly know what kind of satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) a house can give 30 years down the road. (READ Stumbling on Happiness for more on this idea)

The only problem, however, lies in how tough it is to go against the norms of society — it is hard, I know!

It takes a great deal of courage to choose your own path in life. One that you have invented yourself.

If you want to do this, you better get your war paint ready, and be prepared to fight for your freedom. And also, be prepared to look odd or unusual to others, if you truly want to do things your own way.