Sunday, April 3, 2011
"To cling to the thoughts and ways of performing that you’ve always known is to resign yourself to being average. And mediocre. A spectator versus in the game." Robin Sharma
Here is the thing about this. We are socialized to become spectators because spectators do not disturb the status quo. In her book Sociology Understanding a Diverse Society Margaret L. Andersen states that "socialization is a form of social control. Because socialized people conform to cultural expectations, socialization gives society a certain degree of predictability, establishing patterns that be come the basis for social order." The message as we grow is that it is definitely better to roughly if not totally conform to societal norms. So breaking free from a lifetime of conformity requires some serious traction.
How much easier it becomes to conform as we age too. We learn to get very good at fitting in to new situations because that guarantees our immediate and long term survival in those situations. Anytime we enter a new situation our need to conform rises. Two year olds exhibit a distinct unwillingness to conform. Teenagers experience the opposite, where they have a dangerously high need to conform. When we start a new job we sit back and watch while we learn the rules and the hierarchy of the new environment. And we learn those rules well.
After a whole lifetime of conforming is it any surprise that men and women decide suddenly at fifty years old, give or take a few years, that we had so much to accomplish outside of the norm that society asked us to abide by. Sue Shellenbarger calls it "a psychological and spiritual upheaval [that] have been mistaken for menopause symptoms and reduced to a biological phenomenon". But is it possible that it is neither hormonal nor menopausal, but instead just a sudden recognition of our path as unique from the path that society would wish us to ponder. And such a committment to it that we will risk all to take that untravelled path and fulfill our raison d'etre in this life. To experience and live all the things that we were going to do once.
There is a certain clarity in the simple realization of this thought. Like the clouds cleared and you just get it. It removes the danger flags and warnings that flash through you brain and you see it for what it is. A twinkling goal ahead on a clear night. You realize that all along nothing terrible would have actually happened. You would not have been left out in the cold. And if you were, you would have been okay with that.
Get back into the game.