There’s an image that all of us see when we think about the average life of a person;
School, college, job, marriage, home, kids, retirement, etc. We see the white picket fence, the 2.5 kids, the family dog, church on Sundays.
However, this is not the only path for us. There are a ton of social expectations for how our lives should happen, when it happens, and the achievements we earn along the way. For some, those achievements look a little different than what the average person envisions.
5 Social Expectations You Shouldn’t Be Pressured Into
Instead of feeling pressured to have the life that society pressures us into, we should all look at our own goals and allow ourselves to design our own lives.
Here are 5 social expectations you shouldn’t be pressured into:
1. Attending College
College is an amazing achievement and many people want and need a college degree to fulfill their career passions. There has been a lot of pressure to attend college, but it’s not the only career path.
With the issues involving the skills gap, skyrocketing college debt, and more jobs opening up that don’t require a college degree, there are many reasons to rethink a college degree if your passions don’t require it.
Many high-paying jobs can be obtained in the trades or with a two-year degree. And money isn’t everything; your career path should be outlined by your passion. Not money. Generally speaking, after high school you go to college.
This may be true for some, but you should decide for yourself what schooling is best for you.
2. Getting Married
Marriage is a huge commitment made by two people in love. Legally speaking, however, it’s a contract signed by two people that they will share all assets with potentially big consequences if that contract is breached.
The social norm is to find someone you love, marry them, have children, and spend your lives together. Many people choose not to marry their significant other and that should be a completely acceptable choice if both parties agree on it.
Even with the divorce statistics not being as drastic as they once seemed, each person has their own reasons for wanting, or not wanting, to get married.
Some people choose not to have a significant other at all. Society seems to believe that we each need another person to fulfill us. But this has alienated many people that aren’t interested in a romantic relationship at all.
So for those that would like to remain single, or would rather not get married, that’s a great decision to make. They shouldn’t feel like that’s the next step for them just because it’s the next step for many others.
3. Having Children
Having children is something that many people look forward to and is an experience that reshapes their lives. Bringing another person into the world is a huge responsibility that just isn’t for everyone.
Society expects that women want children, that married couples are looking towards that step, and that there is no decision on whether or not to have children. That it’s not a question of if, but when we choose to have children.
However, a greater number of women are choosing to wait to have children or not have them at all. The decision not to have children is a decision that each woman should make for themselves.
Luckily, with so many people choosing not to have children, it’s changing social expectations so that more women don’t feel wrong for not wanting children.
4. Average Lifestyle
What does the average lifestyle of an adult look like?
Perhaps a 9 to 5 job, paying a mortgage, living close to the city they were born in, and watching the news before bed?
This may be close to the average lifestyle that we imagine, but that doesn’t mean that everyone needs to follow suit. Working seasonally, travelling with a band, becoming a nun, or living off-grid. These are all alternative ways to live your life that stray pretty far from the norm.
When life’s pressures make us feel like we need to put on the suit and tie and commute to a job with a retirement plan, it is okay to question it.
HOA’s and PTA meetings aren’t for everyone, and there are a million different ways to live your life that don’t involve the white picket fence lifestyle.
5. Embracing Religion
Each person’s background has more to do with the religious pressures they experience than anything else. Some families are stricter than others. Although, as a person ages they are expected to be more involved in their religion than they were when they were younger.
Society as a whole puts a lot of expectations on the acceptance of religion for each person. For those who do not embrace a religious preference, or a religious preference that differs from the majority, it can feel alienating.
As a group, we are told not to judge others for the color of their skin. Where they are from, their religion, or gender, etc. This needs to be taken more seriously. And for those that choose not to be affiliated with religion, they shouldn’t feel pressured to be.
Society is full of expectations and we are all guilty of unfair assumptions, accidental or not. We are used to seeing a certain lifestyle and it does come as a surprise when people choose not to follow the path that is most common.
For those that choose not to attend college, not to get married, not to have children, to live an alternative lifestyle, and not to embrace a religion, they should not feel alienated for their decisions.
Each person’s life is a book with blank pages that we are free to fill any way we choose. Everyone should distance themselves from any pressure and decide what life is best for them. And if it’s going to college, having children, and attending mass, that’s great.
But if it’s remaining single, living in a fifth wheel, and living off the land that’s great too.