If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you jump off with them?
It's a question our parents asked us all the time growing up, usually to steer us clear from bad influences in our childhood. As a kid, standing out from the status quo is celebrated. You're encouraged to not only be you but to be your best self. The world is your oyster! So why would you follow along what everyone else is doing, just because everyone else is doing it? Why would you jump off the bridge, just because all of your friends are doing it?
Well somewhere along the line of growing up, this little saying gets flipped on its head.
Instead of questioning why you decide to follow along with the crowd, people now question those who veer from the norm. Thinking differently suddenly becomes discouraged. You're not a child anymore; standing out isn't how the status quo works. Button up your shirt, put on your tie and get in line, because that's what everyone else is doing. So why wouldn't you?
I've been on a bit of a self-help book spree for the past year, and I just started what is sure to become a new favorite of mine, The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeu. In it, he summarizes this idea perfectly.
He writes that as adults, the tables have now changed. "People start expecting you to behave very much like they do. It's almost as if they are asking: 'Hey, everyone else is jumping off the bridge. Why aren't you?'"
Step away from the norm, and you're immediately in the spotlight. Think differently and people will immediately question your decisions. While asking "why?" every other minute as a child was acceptable, it's just not tolerated in adulthood. You just do.
Why? Because everyone else is doing it.
I don't know about you, but I'm in favor of the childhood warning. I think our society desperately needs to take it to heart: if everyone else jumped off the bridge, would you? Have you? Are you living the life that you want, or one by someone else's design?
If you've taken the time to step back and reflect on your values and priorities, decide how you want to live your life and still decide to jump head first off that bridge, then power to you! You're much better off than most. You may be jumping right on in with the crowd, but you're jumping because you want to, not because of what anyone else is doing.
The reality is, the bridge isn't going anywhere. The pressures we all feel from our friends, family, coworkers, and society are real. And whether we like to admit it or not, they affect the decisions we make - from where we work, to who we date, to where we live, to what we wear.
But here's the catch: You are in control of how much these pressures play into your life and decisions.
Guillebeu adds, "The presence of the bridge and the expectations of other people are somewhat unavoidable. Whether you jump or not, however, is entirely up to you."
So my question to you is: Are you jumping off the bridge or are you standing on your own?
This post was originally published on Quarter for Your Crisis, a catalyst for Millennials to reconnect with themselves, their faith, and the world around them.