I consider myself a rule breaker. Growing up in a strict Indian environment there were many rules laid out for me. It’s expected that as an Indian woman, I should be conservative, quiet and live a life of servitude. I should not draw attention to myself – especially not the attention of men. I should not drink or socialise. I should be faithful to my religion and culture by taking part in fasts and other religious practices. I should get married when my parents tell me to, and to whom they think I should marry. And then I must have babies and settle down with the in-laws. I should learn to cook and nurture a family. And should I also be interested in a career, I should be an accountant or a doctor.
In this environment there’s no room for ‘me’ and my truth, there’s only room for ‘them’ and their rules. I had to either break the rules or break myself. I broke the rules. I chose me.
Are you willing to stand out?
If you want to break some rules, you have to be willing to stand out for, in most people’s eyes, all the wrong reasons. It can be a constant battle of being judged, ridiculed, condemned and even emotionally blackmailed for being true to you and not to ‘them’.
This applies to all rule breaking, not just my personal examples above. The person who leaves their high flying job to become a monk. The one who sells their mansion to move into an ecofriendly, self sustaining home in the woods. The person who drew an end to their 20 year marriage or the person who married someone 30 years younger. The person who quit their stable 9-5 to riskily set up their own business (I did that too). The one who married outside of their religion, the one who changed or left a religion, the one who chose not to have children, the one who didn’t go to University, the one who went vegan… the list goes on, and the masses look on. In dismay.
The exception amongst the rules is always under the spotlight. A hot, uncomfortable spotlight. So, if you’re going to break the rules, you must be willing to get uncomfortable.
Toeing the line isn’t that bad, but it’s not that good either
‘It’s not that bad’ to stay in this job because it pays well. ‘It’s not that bad’ to hang out with people I don’t really connect with because it’s only a few hours. ‘It’s not that bad’ to say yes to please other people because it keeps the peace. The comfort trap of ‘it’s not that bad’ is what stops you from creating change because, toeing the line doesn’t necessarily hurt that much, it doesn’t necessarily give you a bad life. But, it does stop you from having an amazing one.
If you want that amazing life, you can’t let short term comfort rob you of long term fulfilment.
Saying no to that social event could have given you time to do things that nurture your soul. Saying no to that mortgage could have given you the money to travel the world and have transformative life experiences or, start a business. Saying no to that mediocre relationship could have saved you pain and misery and given you deep peace. Wonderful opportunities are on the other side of the broken rule. If you have the courage to go there.
You can start small
I’m not promoting reckless abandon, don’t go ending your marriage or quitting your job just like that! (I’m not promoting doing anything illegal or harmful either.) The grandiose stories of massive rule breakers can mislead us or scare the us off. Small acts of rule breaking can have just as big an impact on your personal wellbeing and fulfilment, like speaking up when the rule is to keep quiet or, saying no when the rule is to say yes. Step by step you build your sovereignty, step by step you build your confidence and then you can break the bigger rules, if you want to.
As I continue on my rule breaking journey, I hope you’ll also take the time to consider the cost of breaking some rules versus the cost of breaking yourself. And I hope too, will choose yourself.
I’ll see you under the spotlight.
About the author: To find out more about Pinky Jangra, please click here.