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Societal “Norms”

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Alicia Divico

Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in addiction therapy

What are social norms
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Societal Norms

I see a lot of teenagers and young adults who are telling me the same thing. Many feel badly about themselves, because they don’t feel passionate or interested in the direction that society pushes them. These people don’t want to be slaves to the 9 to 5, and they don’t like the idea of working, being exhausted, and not having time to truly live. I try to tell them the truth rather than pushing a protocol for life on them. Here are the myths of societal norms:

1. You must graduate high school with your class. Yes, a high school diploma or GED is very important in the workforce; however, there are MANY options of obtaining those outside of walking with your classmates. There are GED classes, adult high schools, virtual school, etc. Things happen in life that interrupt our ability to complete high school, but it absolutely does NOT mean that’s the end of the road.

2. You must go to college. College is proven to be a ticket out of poverty in most cases; however, there are many options beyond college. It truly is NOT for everyone! And the real truth is, it is NOT a measure of intelligence as research has taught us that they are many forms of intelligence. Many people climb the latter in companies without a college degree. Many people start success businesses on their own. There’s hospitality, stock trading, music, trades, sales jobs, etc. all fields in which college is not necessary and making a living is possible. Finally, there’s always the military. These are just a few of the options, and it seems adults forget that they exist.

3. You must buy a house. Many people never own a house, and there are pluses and minuses to renting vs. owning. Either way, a piece of property is not a measure of worth. If a natural disaster happens or some other form of calamity, no one is going to care if you own a property or not. If you have the opportunity to be aware on your death bed, it’s unlikely you will be regretting never having bought a house. Shelter is important, yes, but nothing beyond that.

4. You must get married by 30. It’s true that the average age for marriage is 27; however, there is no guarantee that those marrying at 27 are staying married. I have worked with MANY people over the years, and some don’t find the person they consider to be their true love until marriage 2 or 3, which puts them in their 40s and sometimes 50s.

5. You must have kids. Many people choose not to have kids, and many people aren’t able to have kids. Not having kids does not give those people’s lives any less value. Many people say that it is our job to reproduce, and at one time I can see that idea making sense. However, now we are heavily populated and we do not need everyone to reproduce. Many people say that having children gives life purpose, but again, there are many ways to derive a sense of purpose from this life.

Bottom line is that there is no formula for a successful life. The most successful people in my opinion are those that protect and seek happiness and spread kindness and love to others. We get caught up in what other people, society, the new, whatever says our lives are supposed to be, but you have to be happy with your life, no one else. One of the biggest life regrets is living life for others rather than yourself. Don’t get caught up, think for yourself, DO YOU!

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