The most apparent detriment is when one who does not fit into a mold tries to force themselves to conform. An excellent example of this is the education system. Society at large says that if you don’t have a college degree that you are most likely ‘less than’ or a ‘failure.’ While on average college graduates might make more money than those without the same education; it doesn’t mean college is the right path for everyone.
When I tried to go the college route, I failed miserably. In fact, I failed multiple times. I’m almost sure that if my old transcripts were pulled up, I would have a G.P.A somewhere in the decimal range. Was it because I was incompetent or stupid? Not in my opinion. My poor school performance was based on my lack of interest rather than intelligence. I just couldn’t make myself sit in a chair for hours at a time and study general ed classes that I didn’t care about. This lack of interest further led to me ‘zoning out hard’ or simply not going to class.
I also don’t believe it had anything to do with the subject matter I was studying. It had more to do with the educational structure. I didn’t like being forced to learn anything specific. I wanted to learn what I chose and when I decided. I didn’t like teachers telling me what to do. I didn’t like the Daddy-Daughter relationship of being a student with my authority figure (professor). I didn’t like seeking approval or sacrificing 4-years for a piece of paper that tells the world I’m ‘educated.’ I just simply didn’t care.
It’s possible I could force myself to get a college education. I could also force myself to get a 9-5 job doing work in something I have little interest about. But that just doesn’t make sense to me. Why force myself to do something I don’t want to do if there is an alternative?
The problem is we as a society rarely talk about alternatives, and if we do, it’s talked about with a sense of contempt. That if your life is structured differently with relationships, jobs, education or physical appearances, you are somehow ‘not up to speed’ with everyone else. This ridicule is usually followed by suggestions on how to get back on the same path as everyone else.
The only problem is that the path everyone else is on isn’t exactly that awesome. From what I can see, many people who are NOT on the go-to way have far more interesting, fulfilling and successful lives. They might have more passionate and exciting relationships, more free time and autonomy (one of the most critical factors to human happiness), wider-varieties of self-education and creative expression.
Despite all of these benefits, few people decide to try new lifestyle options. More and more people every year are pushed into the cattle-coral pumping thousands into education and falling into mediocre 9-5 jobs. Or maybe getting into contract-riddled, vanilla and ever so boring marriages. Or Removing any sense of autonomy that they have a nice 401k plan. However, how many people would honestly say that this path has been rewarding? That it’s the most rewarding path for EVERYONE?
Think about your options. Think about being weird. Think about bending the rules a bit. There might be a lifestyle out there far more rewarding for you. One that the majority of people will be envious of instead of contemptuous.