Why you should break social norms…

People think I’m weird. They have done for a long time.  But it’s not because I wear socks with my sandals or talk to myself in the street (I can reassure you that I do neither), it’s because I break social norms.  You know, societies rules such as saying ‘pardon’ when you burp (something women never do of course 😉 ) or talking to yourself in the street (though even people with ‘hands free’ kits still look like idiots) but if you start breaking a couple of the right ones, it can work for building up confidence and hopefully getting rid of travel nerves you might have…

This past weekend I broke about 4 big social norms and you know what? I had great fun doing it 🙂

Its 'Cause I Am Weird; I Am Alive !

I’m weird and I love it

I sang in the street.  

Well, ok, I mouthed along to the words but I didn’t sing with sound because, well, that really WOULD be weird; this isn’t Glee you know.  You may think ‘everyone does that’ but I can assure you they don’t.  The earphones go in, the facial expression stays neutral and they walk like zombies; you do it, I’ve done it, everyone does THAT but they DON’T mouth along to the words or have smiles on their faces whilst doing it but why shouldn’t you?  Let’s be honest, if you’re walking down a quite residential street, no one is really going to see you anyway and if you’re walking down the highstreet, the likelihood is that you’re never going to see the people again anyway so what does it even matter if they think you’re strange?

I danced in the queue

No, I’m not like the cast of the Full Monty queue dancing crew but I did have a little bit of groove going on (though my ‘cool’ rating has just nose-dived since I used the word ‘groove’).

I’ve got my groove on

We’re not talking wild, crazy lap dancing here but just the occasional bop (and there goes my cool rating again using ‘bop’) of the head and a body jiggle (ok, this is ridiculous, I’m beginning to sound like an out of touch grandparent using these words).  Sure people looked at me like I was weird but who cares? I’m listening to dance music and I’m ‘feeling it’ (to quote the young generation 😉 ) so why wouldn’t I want to have a bit of a dance?  Unless they’re the rudest people on the planet, it’s unlikely that they’ll actually say anything like ‘you’re a weirdo’ to your face and since you can’t read their minds, why worry what they think of you?

Walk passed a guy and tell him he looks hot

I know, I know, I can hear the ‘OMGs’ but let me explain.  You’re in a bar with your friends and a cute guy is coming towards your area, you’d let him walk passed wouldn’t you?  Well, why not subtly point at him telling your friends ‘ooh he’s cute’.  The worst scenario is that he doesn’t hear or does and carries on walking but the best scenario? He smiles, walks over to you and you get his number (which I’ve successfully managed!) .  My friends recoil in horror whenever I do this and I’ve been known to do it when I’m in the supermarket walking passed a hot guy but who cares?  You make him smile, you’ve said what’s on your mind and both of you go your separate ways.  Saying what’s on your mind is a big part of confidence (though obviously you shouldn’t be mean with it) and if you take that confidence when you’re backpacking, I guarantee the travel nerves won’t feel so big.

Borrow a mum (or something in equal standing)

‘WTF’ springs to mind doesn’t it?!  Well picture this…I’m clothes shopping by myself yesterday and I think I’ve found an amazing dress but because I know my mum so well, I know what she would say if she was with me: ‘well, you’ve got fairly big hips and a bit of a bum so it might not be too flattering’ (take note; honesty without cruelty) and so, whilst seeing a mum give her opinion to her 16 year old daughter, I ask if I could ‘borrow her for a mum’s opinion’ which she gave me.  I could tell that she thought it was weird (to begin with) but think about it…you are asking a stranger for an HONEST opinion; one not tainted by emotional attachment etc.  After talking to her, I decided that I would get the dress and as I was leaving the unisex dressing room, the guy in charge said, ‘you really did look beautiful in that dress’ which MADE MY DAY! (see how well a random compliment can make someone feel?!).  So why not try asking the person next to you in the fitting room for an opinion?  They’re a stranger, what do you REALLY care what they think?

On ‘cyber paper’, I sound like a crazy person but so what if you make an idiot out of yourself?  If you can’t do stupid things like this and learn how to cope at home, your travel nerves won’t have eased and you won’t have the confidence to talk to random (but potentially amazing) people when you’re backpacking and you could miss out on experiencing some incredible stuff.  You should also note that NONE of these social norms I break hurt anyone so the only question I have left to ask is….what are you waiting for?

Leave a Reply

16 comments

  1. Love the ‘borrow a mum’. Mums around the world should start that service. And mums need daughters for shopping too!

  2. You go girl! Great article, and yes – on all accounts – why NOT!?!

    I think a lot of it boils down to exposing our vulnerabilities; having the courage to strike up the conversation (say a guy is hot, or ask for a mum’s opinion), but the benefits can be amazing if you put your neck out there and take a leap of faith. You life can change in an instant, all because of a conversation with somebody at the supermarket.

    So again – why NOT?!

    Here’s an article and awesome TED video that explores the concept of vulnerability more:
    http://www.wisebread.com/get-out-there-the-power-of-vulnerability

  3. Yeah, my insecurities would prohibit me from doing most of those. That’s ok, I don’t really have the legs for dresses 🙂

    People always tell me I’m too serious. Maybe so.

  4. Monica – haha mum’s really should start this service…when we didn’t like what our own mum’s said, we could just ask another instead 🙂

  5. Nora – why not indeed! Don’t get me wrong, I have vulnerabilities too but I definitely think it helps to by breaking the norm and not caring (to a certain extent) what total strangers think of me. You’re exactly right – the benefits of doing things differently can be off hugely and you wonder why you never did this kind of thing before 🙂 LOVE your positivty Nora! And thank you for the TED link…I’ll go check it out 🙂

  6. Erik – baby steps. Why not try and mouth just one line from a song when you know that no one is around? It will add up and before you know it you’ll be doing a Glee down the road 😉 And I’m SURE we can find you an appropriate dress 😀 It’s got nothing to do with being serious (I’m constantly being told to lighten up) – it’s about learning to say that you don’t care what total strangers think…you’ll get there 🙂

  7. Very inspirational! It’s silly really that we let social norms rule our lives to the extent we do. Especially if you’re Swedish. I think I’ll take your “baby steps” advice… 🙂

  8. Tobias – thanks hun! Glad you liked it 🙂 Everyone starts with baby steps – you’ll be dancing along the street in no time 😀

  9. LOL I looovee this post! My name’s Antoinette but people call me Toni as well. Nice to meet and stumble upon your blog, Toni! The Toni’s in this world must be weird because I am big on complimenting hot guys as well! Dancing in public is fun in general! When I have my headphones on and playing the “dance.dance” playlist, I just can’t resist! Glad to know at the end of the day, I’m not the only “weird” one. Cheers to the weirdness girl!

  10. Toni – hey lovely! So glad you stumbled on my little slice of internet 😀 Maybe Toni’s all throughout the world are awesome at queue dancing just like we are 😀 high five!

  11. Ed Rex

    I’m all about breaking the social norm. My mates look at me with horror when I break them in a public place. Like you say, you only see the people once

  12. Ed – glad to hear that you’re a fellow norm breaker 🙂 Yep, my friends look at me with a ‘wtf’ look before walking in another direction – losers haha

  13. Alex

    I’ve done animal impersonations with a friend in the street that was quite liberating! People stared (we were in Italy where people are more openly nosy!) but we had a laugh monkeying around;-)

  14. Alex – haha LOVE IT! I bet that was so much fun…good for you! 🙂

  15. Oh goodness, how delightful 🙂 You will be happy to know you are not the only one. I “sing” to myself all the time on my walk to and from work. When people give me the eye I just smile and wave.

  16. Josh – ha! Glad to know that I’m not the only one signing to themselves in the street; good for you! Smiling and waving is a great way to confuse them too 😀