After studying sociology in undergrad, it’s hard for me to turn off my constant critique of societal norms. Seriously, if you have ever had a few drinks with a bunch of sociology majors, you know how heated our debates can become.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of what you “should” do.
Societal norms are enforced by those around you, pressuring you into doing things the mainstream way. These norms govern things from relationships, to body image, and even the food you eat. Societal norms play a part in your every day decisions, whether or not you realize it.
Here’s a recent example of norms governing my decisions. Last Saturday night all I wanted to do was sit on my couch and watch “The Night Of” (has anybody else watched this?). Nevermind the dinner plans I had or the nice weather. I really just wanted to plop on the couch and zone out. But, I still went to dinner. I put on my happy face and socialized, but I felt exhausted and anxious doing so. Any time I was zoning out of the conversation, you bet I was thinking about snuggling up on the couch with my cat. What I wanted to do was stay home and do nothing, but societal norms made me feel like I had to have big plans to go out and be around other people.
What I’m trying to say is, sometimes what everyone else says you should be doing, is not necessarily what YOU should be doing. The fall is a time for resetting, recommitting, and reassessing. As you do these things, think about what you really want to commit to. What do you want on your calendar? Is there anything there that you said yes to because you thought you should, but you are now dreading the date? Get rid of it.
There is no shame in sticking to what makes you happy. In order to live a full, happy life, you have to fill yourself up. Some people fill up by being around others, and this is what the “should do’s” in our society are generally directed towards. But as an introvert I know that sometimes you fill up by giving yourself some much needed alone time. And that’s okay too!
As we head into the fall and the lazy days of summer fade away, make sure you take time to slow down. If you’re feeling drained and anxious, try giving yourself a free day. Put it on your calendar if you have to. These days of nothing are just as important as the days out with friends. This way, when you do make it off the couch and out of the house, you can be fully present. You will enjoy those social gatherings instead of just going through the motions. If someone in your life says you should be doing something you don’t want to do, ignore them. In fact, maybe what you should be doing is removing them from your life. The people who truly matter will support your decision to have a lowkey night, and even better, they’ll encourage it.