While learning French in school, I remember being very frustrated because for every rule, there were several exceptions. While the rules themselves were easy to learn and apply, the exceptions made me uncomfortable. They made the language difficult to learn. The exceptions were what really tried and tested me. It was impossible to ignore them. Similarly, there are certain rules (set by society) which I am expected to follow. These rules were easy to learn and apply. These rules were safe. These rules were taught to me from the very beginning and ingrained in me. As long as I followed these rules, I knew society would accept me. So, I followed them (almost) to the T.
However, once in a while I heard of someone breaking the rules, of being an exception to the rule and I found myself in trouble. My standard response(s) to such exceptions were, “How stupid/irresponsible/whimsical/capricious/impractical (etc.)!” or “Grow up!” It made it so much easier to rationalise my choices. I, now, realise that in most cases, I was just scared that someone is breaking the rules, that someone has the courage and guts to do something I want to do but don’t have the balls to. I didn’t want to be uncomfortable. I wanted to continue living in my little bubble following all the rules. I didn’t want to look at my life and realise that there may be something missing in it- that there is a choice, an alternative. I didn’t want to question my beliefs. I wanted to be safe and accepted. It was so much easier just to play along.
Every time I heard of an exception, I found myself growing angrier and unhappier. I also realised that, in the larger scheme of things, I really had nothing to lose. Things could not get any worse than they are. The least I could do was give it a shot. I owed it to myself.
Trying to be an exception is scary because I have to find my own way. There is no ‘how to’ book or set of rules to guide me. Worse, in all likelihood, I will have to break pretty much every rule I have been taught to follow and have followed. I am prepared to be discouraged and to receive all of the aforementioned responses (and worse). In my opinion, I will most probably be receiving these responses for the same reasons I always gave them. After all, I was one of them. While that does not make me an expert on their psychology, it gives me some much-needed insight, hope and courage.
- Exceptions to rules tend to make people uncomfortable. More often than not, that is why they are discouraging me.
- I have nothing to lose and probably, a lot to gain.
- There is always a choice. I can choose between following the rules or being an exception to the rule.
- Grow a pair. Toute suite!