The Expectation of Formality is Inhibiting

Formality is the barrier to real human connection. Plain and simple. I think we all realize it, but how do we collectively change it? The truth is, I don’t really know. It’s extremely challenging to change the ways of society as a whole. I spend a huge chunk of my existence thinking and thinking and thinking. Severely overthinking. I love to analyze life, humans, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and everything else profound. I spend a great deal of my time pondering the abstract factors that inhibit us in life. We’re all so used to social standards because they’ve been ingrained into us since birth. Many things deemed socially unacceptable and /strange” are a result of the value society places on acting a certain way in certain social situations. We’re all subconsciously influenced by these norms of what’s “appropriate” at what times. But I say life is a blank canvas. You can mark it however you choose…the materials you use, what you write/draw/paint, it’s all up to you. Always. Say what you want, when you want, to who you want. Obviously, there are some reasonable boundaries, as there are for everything. Such as not deliberately insulting someone.I mean this more in the sense of not letting social norms limit you unnecessarily ,if you feel limited by them.


For example, going up to a random person and asking them what the point of life is because you really want a new perspective or asking a stranger if you can give them a hug if you simply feel like giving them a hug because they just feel so dang huggable in that moment or confiding in a stranger about your issues with explosive diarrhea. I’ve noticed, at least in America, that we have this natural tendency of isolation toward people we don’t know. Many would think two strangers striking up a profound, emotional conversation with each other is strange. Many would be shocked if a random person came up to them and started sobbing and telling them all of their life struggles. Because we’re not used to it. We’ve been so accustomed to filtering ourselves in innumerable ways and others providing us with equally filtered versions of themselves.


 There are so many unwritten expectations pertaining to rationality and formality. “You can’t say things like that to a person of authority”. “You can’t put that in your college essay”. “You can’t wear something like that to an interview”. “Asking them their age is rude”. “You can’t talk back to your parents”. “You shouldn’t be so loud and crazy in public”. “You should keep that to yourself”.


 I’ve seen it all and I saw it yesterday, the day before that, and the day before that, and the day before that. The list goes on and on. The way I look at it is what’s the point of life if you’re not living it true to yourself? What’s the point if we can’t actually be ourselves around people, if we’re told to limit ourselves in so many ways? Are we only our real selves with ourselves? If social norms are limiting you in some way, shape, or form, you shouldn’t be expected to abide to them. No one should be. I think the incessant filtration might just be squeezing the human out of us. Maybe I’m a cynic, but humans are becoming less human. We could learn a lot from our counterparts, the apes we evolved from. Just look at them. Happily frolicking. Wiping their butts in front of anyone and everyone. I don’t see them holding in their farts and burps. They’re so honest around each other. Zilch filtration. Why all the acting and the professionalism and the superficiality and every other inhibiting social norm? The way I see it is we’re all fellow human beings living alongside each other in this world. We’re similar in a countless number of ways because of the inherent fact that we’re homo sapiens. I like to think of everyone in this world as my friend. Lately I’ve been reading this book called “The Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama. It has absolutely no religious affiliation, just a book that can be applied to the life of any human. One idea he stresses throughout the book is that regarding everyone as similar rather than different is a powerful philosophy; it can tone down the isolation. Just think about it, what is the true need for formality? Why is it expected of us to act a certain way around people we don’t know? There’s not really any good reason. I’m not trying to sound idealistic, but think about what the world would be like if we regarded everyone as our friend rather than a stranger; if it was simply the norm to say whatever was looming in your mind at any given time to any given person; if we were able to be 127% ourselves around all people.

I admire the boy in my English class that asks our teacher whatever comes to his mind no matter how stereotypically invasive the questions are. Because the fact is, nothing is innately inappropriate, we’ve just labeled it that way. And these labels shouldn’t prevent us from living our most genuine lives and having our most genuine interactions. After going in circles, I’ve made some conclusions. If social standards bother you, you owe it to yourself to not abide to them. It all starts in our own hands. You decide what to do with your life. First and foremost, make sure you’re living true to yourself and being who you are. Don’t let the expectation of formality inhibit you.