Making – and Breaking – the Rules

Older woman

Who makes the rules for your life? It’s an important question. General rules aren’t exactly a bad thing; we all carry around rules that we’ve agreed to follow, many of which make our lives better and more stable. But how many rules do you follow on a daily basis that were laid down for you by someone else and you’ve never bothered to question?

When people talk about societal pressure to look or act a certain way, they’re really talking about rules like this. At some point, a group of people decided that this one thing was the way to be, usually regarding the appearance or behavior of another group of people, not themselves. We hear these rules as little voices in our heads, voices that sound like our grandmother, or school teachers, or old bosses. The question is, do these rules actually benefit us in any way?

How many things have you kept yourself from doing because of those voices? How many adventures have you skipped or comforts you’ve denied yourself because of someone else’s misplaced judgment? Let me ask you some further questions: who has to deal with the consequences of your decisions? That’s right, You. Who earns the right to make choices about your finances, time, and priorities? You again. Lastly, who gets to pick the fun stuff? You do, hon.

The secret of truly confident people is it that, at some point, they stop following rules that don’t help move them forward. They stop listening to voices who are more interested in controlling others than lifting those others up. They cheerfully DGAF, and focus instead on following self-determined rules for their own paths.

Here are some classic “unbreakable” rules you should definitely consider breaking:

  1. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” This is nonsense. Innovation is the key to efficiency and progress and general happiness. If everyone followed this rule, we wouldn’t have airplanes or bras or the internet. Keep tweaking your processes until they work for you.
  2. “You can’t have it all.” This is total BS and always aimed at women who dare to have a life or ambitions outside of waiting on others. Men expect to have it all every day, and you can too. Identify what that means for you, and don’t settle.
  3. “Ladies don’t [insert action here].” Any sentence that starts this way is meant to force you to conform to some Barbie-esque, cookie-cutter mold of what a woman is “supposed” to look/think/act like. I’m not saying do the exact opposite of whatever is said–but yeah, do the exact opposite of whatever is said. Gendering even the most commonplace human actions is gross and harmful and people need to stop it.
  4. “Wait your turn.” Stick to this mannerly advice, and you’ll find yourself holding the door open for an endless stream of people who all get seats at their tables before you do. Fortune favors the bold, which is a nice way of saying the slightly opportunistic. Better: take your chance, shoot your shot, get in while the getting is good. Don’t politely usher others past you on their own quests for greatness.

If you’ve already breaking these rules with abandon and are loving your new-found freedom, don’t forget to commemorate it! Celebrate your boldness. We’re cheering for you every step of the way.


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