I stopped conforming when I turned 40 years old. Until then I had done everything as I ‘should’. I never caused my parents any trouble, apart from answering back when I didn’t agree with something they had said or done. I was made to feel as though I was wrong and I backed down as I believed that adults were always right. Nowadays, I know that we can think, and behave, differently from one another, but it doesn’t mean that either person is wrong. We are just different, and that is OK.
I was good at school, top of the class, and went on to get a business degree and a highly paid job in the City. This all didn’t feel ‘right’ for me, but I did it all because it is what you are ‘supposed’ to do. I had a glimpse of the real me when I left my job, and decided to study Beauty Therapy instead. I passed my course with flying colours and got a job in a London Spa. I didn’t like the way the business was run and soon left and started working for myself. I never advertised but was always as busy as I wanted to be. When you are doing what you love, and are great at it, you will reap rewards.
I got married when I was 30, probably because all my friends were doing it, and it was the next ‘step’ in life. Three children followed, and with every one, my marriage deteriorated. We loved our children but our love for each other disintegrated. We weren’t a team, we were opponents. I resented his freedom and he resented mine. Although, ironically, neither of us were actually free! I was chained to the children, and he was chained to his work. We didn’t have balance, but it’s irrelevant now. This is what happens a lot in marriages. Most couples stay together for the children, or for financial reasons. it’s comfortable, and easy, but not exactly happy.
The thing is, the fear of staying has to be worse that the fear of leaving, and it appears quite rare to get to this place.
But I did. Aged 40.
I had an emotional affair with a man I met at the gym. I wanted to go to the gym with my husband. He wasn’t a ‘gym’ person. Just one of the nails in the coffin. So, someone appeared who loved the gym, and with whom I could train. The inevitable happened. When the affair turned physical I knew I couldn’t be married anymore. I couldn’t have led two lives, or continued to live a lie.
So I jumped into the unknown. I was scared about leaving the security blanket I had, but I realised that I only had one life, and I deserved to be happy. I didn’t leave my husband to jump into another serious relationship. I left to be free. People gossiped about me, and judged me. I shrank myself into a little mouse, and the death stares I got made me feel sick. I had a lot of nastiness directed at me and did get to the point where I wanted to die but, it was at this point of rock bottom that I realised that nobody had the power to make me feel anything. I could choose how I felt. I also realised that these people didn’t matter at all. Most of them were jealous because they themselves couldn’t do what I was doing.
So, from that day onwards, I chose happiness, and vowed that nobody would ever make me feel anything less. I decided to be proud of who I am, to embrace my imperfections, and to be true to myself in anything I was going to do from then on. No exceptions. Raw. Real. A rare kind of human. I realised that kindness is rare in humans too, and sought to address this along my journey.
These are some of the great things that have happened in the few years that have followed my decision to stop doing what I was ‘meant’ to do with my life. I have no regrets and wouldn’t change anything. Everything always happens as, and when, it should.
Here are 10 of the wonderful things that happen when you stop conforming;
1. YOU START TO FEEL FREE
The moment you decide to stop following everybody else and what they are doing, is the moment you become free. Free from social constraints and morays. You realise that you don’t have to go to that party or comment on that person’s photos on facebook, just because everybody else is. You step away from the sheeple and start to go it alone.
I decided to rent a property when my divorce was over. I didn’t have enough money to buy a home and couldn’t get a mortgage, so it really was my only option. My ex husband made sure I wasn’t going to be financially secure. This has been one of the best things that could have happened. If I was still living in the former marital home, I would have been under his control for many more years. This way, I now have freedom to do what I like with my money but no future financial stability. This is fine by me. I have no fear. At worst, I will go abroad and help less fortunate people, happy with bed and board as payment.
My children will be older and can live with their dad full time. I did 10 years of parenting mainly alone, so they could spend a few years with their dad if I am away. I will still be there for them, but I will be showing them a different way of living. They will have a large spectrum from which they can live anywhere along the scale. Their dad is teaching them to plan for the future and that money is very important. I am teaching them to live in the moment and that their happiness is the most important thing. We could not be more different, but the main thing is that neither of us is ‘wrong’. Just different. Our children can choose their own paths.
2. PEOPLE START TO LOOK AT YOU DIFFERENTLY
Since I started doing what I want to do, rather than doing what I thought I should be doing, people look at me in a different way. First, a lot of people though I was crazy, but then quite a few of them have come to understand me and what I stand for.
I still get called crazy at least once a day but I now know that it is because a lot of people couldn’t live how I do, but I am not telling them to. I am just being the change that I wish to see in the world. Yes, I smile at everyone and am outwardly happy everyday, but I don’t push myself onto people. They know where I am if they want a dose of positivity, but they can also steer clear and it will never offend me. I do not take anything personally. I understand that how anybody treats me is indicative of them, not me. If somebody doesn’t return my smile, I still smile. If someone doesn’t say thank you when I hold a door for them, I still smile. I do not expect anything from anyone. Nobody owes me anything, and vice versa. When you realise this, you do not suffer as much as you do when you think that people need to be as you are.
3. YOU BECOME POWERFUL
I have become aware of just how powerful it is to be yourself. Authenticity scares fake people, and there are a lot of them out there. They do not come near me. Nobody is better than anyone else. I don’t believe that anybody is born bad. Bad behaviour is learned. When you get this, you become powerful because you understand rather than judge, and that is a major factor in leading a peaceful life. Nobody will annoy you as, instead, you will realise why they are acting, or speaking in a certain way.
Others will start to respect you and the way you treat others. It takes a strong person to be tolerant of others, especially when their behaviour is ‘unacceptable’ to most. I believe that if someone is doing something that we don’t agree with, then we can quietly leave the situation and avoid conflict. Live and let live.
Last week, someone came over to me to tell me that I was wrong for relaying a story about them during on of my live facebook videos. I had changed their name and, as far as I was aware, had only stated facts about the event. This person believed differently and believed I was guilty of ‘defamation of character.’ They were quite aggressive in their manner towards me but I refused to argue with them. Other people were around and looked quite uncomfortable, but I kept smiling and refrained from justifying my actions. I always say that conflict cannot survive with only one participant and this situation became proof of this. I saw one of the onlookers a few days after and she said “I don’t know how you kept your cool….I would have started arguing back,” Then she added, “And that’s why you are who you are..” This meant a lot to me as I had been observed practising what I preach. I do not just talk the talk, I walk the walk.
This is very powerful.
So many people lead double lives. They preach one thing and then live in a totally different way. I’d never blow somebody’s candle out to make mine shine brighter, but I see this a lot.
4. THE REAL YOU APPEARS
When you stop following society’s rules, you stop being a product of everybody else’s expectations and therefore, start stripping away all of the rubbish that has accumulated over the years, clouding the real you. I always say that we have a diamond inside of us and when we are born, it is bright and shiny. Over time, parents, school, society and friends start putting lots of expectations and rules on us which turn us into someone different. Our diamonds become covered in grime and can stay that way until we die. If we realised what has happened, and ‘wake up,’ then we can start to clean the diamond up, and start living as intended, becoming that pure form again. This is why babies are so mesmerising. They are authentic beings. They live in the moment. We start being taught that this is not the way to live. That we need plans and goals, but all we really need is to just ‘be.’ We aren’t going anywhere, we are all on this big ball suspended in the sky. The only destination is death, so we need to actually live while we are here, not just settle and exist.
5. YOU BEGIN TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT
When you stop competing with everybody else, in regards to having or doing certain ‘stuff,’ you will start to slow down and appreciate what you actually have, instead of thinking you need certain things in order to be happy.
You will start noticing more small details about people, and see what is really important in life. It is always the little things that are really the big things. You will notice the colours in nature and start to enjoy what you is going on in the moment, instead of planning more future events at which you will have ‘fun’ and be ‘happy.’ I never need to look forward to anything in the future as I am happy with my present. It is all we really have. The past is gone and the future isn’t here yet, so we must live in the present. It is a gift.
What we do now will determine our future. How we see life will impact everything that will happen from now on.
6. YOU BECOME HAPPIER
When you are appreciative of what you have, at this moment, you will become happier. You can choose happiness at any time. That is the beauty of it. I made the decision to be happy and it was instant. Freedom for me is priceless, and contributes to my permanently happy state. Not feeling pushed to do, or be, anything, is beautiful. My life is down to me. Nobody else. When you stop conforming, you take responsibility of your own life and stop expecting anything from others. You stop being a victim who blames everyone and everything else for anything bad that happens in their life. Everything comes from you and when you accept this, you will thrive.
7. YOU START TO GIVE MORE
When you don’t feel pressured to do anything, your life becomes peaceful, and you start to want to give more, off your own back. You will appreciate the great things that others are doing in their lives, and will want to support them, wither with kind words or with kind gestures, such as donating money to a charity they are supporting. We are all here to serve the world, and we all have a gift. When we find it, we must use it for the greater good. Giving is living. So many people only think of themselves, to the detriment of humankind. Giving is far better than receiving. I know. My children know. My clients know. The feeling you get from helping somebody else, or even just giving them a smile or a few kind words, is immense. Addictive. Once you start you will never turn back.
8. THE WRONG PEOPLE LEAVE YOUR LIFE
When you start to go a different way to everybody else, some people will feel so uncomfortable around you, that they will avoid you at all costs. Let them go. Let it go. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. They are obviously not your people. They may have been, when you were pretending to be somebody else, but not anymore, and that is ok.
You will repel those who feel threatened by your truth. Do not take it personally. Just be kind, and understand that it all to do with them and nothing to do with you. You scare them with your realness, because they are fake. The truth hurts and so many people can’t handle it. They would rather go around with their heads in the sand. That is fine too. You do not need to be near each other. Each to their own.
Sometimes you may have to go it alone for a bit. Ride the storm, everything is temporary and these people will be replaced..
9. THE RIGHT PEOPLE APPEAR IN YOUR LIFE
Your vibe attracts your tribe, and I have found this to be so true. I give out positivity, and this is what I now get back, since being truly me. I am meeting amazing people everyday, just by being my happy self. It freaks me out, and it’s like magic, but it definitely happens. What you give out, you will get back.
When you give out nothing but love, love is what you will receive. I will only have people around me now who lift me up. No excuses. No loyalty. If you have known somebody for years and years, it doesn’t mean you have to carry on k knowing them if all they do is bring your mood down when you are with them. No! They have to go. You can distance yourself gradually. I guarantee that someone so much better for you will appear as you keep walking your path.
10. YOU FIND YOUR PATH AND YOU KEEP GOING
We are all here to do something to help the world. All of us. The more authentic we become, the more we go where we are supposed to and do what we are supposed to. Not what everybody else thinks we are ‘supposed’ to do. What we KNOW we are supposed to do.
You will encounter naysayers and doubters, who will try and stop you from taking the road less travelled. Just keep going. Every successful person has haters. Listen to song lyrics. So many talk about breaking away from the norm and shining your light, ignoring any opposition from haters. Haters mean that you are doing something right. Do not turn back. Believe in yourself, as anything is possible if you want it enough.
I’ve seen footage of Ed Sheeran and Justin Timberlake, separately talking about how weird they were when they were younger. About how they got called names and were shunned for being different. Look at them now. They kept going, refusing to be like everybody else.
It was the making of them, and could be the making of you. It is never to late to stop existing and start living. You can choose to begin at any time..
As Katy Perry sings, “we think we’re free..” but “we’re all chained to the rhythm..”
We can break the chains but it takes bravery. We only have one life, it is up to us, and only us, how we live it. We can start to take control of our lives back at anytime, but it takes a strong person to manage to follow it through.