we’re not in high school anymore

livinglagom.com - we're not in high school anymore

Some people never leave high school. Sure, they graduate and go on with their lives. But no matter how old they get, the way they think and act remains unchanged from their teenage years.

I’ve come to realize that in order to be able to live life on your own terms, you have to go against the crowd.

You have to be willing to be “uncool.”

You have to be the “loser” that does things by themselves because if you waited around for someone to be available to go see that movie that you’ve been wanting to see or go on that trip you’ve always wanted to take, you might never get to go.

You have to speak up for yourself when someone suggests splitting the restaurant bill when all you ordered was an appetizer.

You have to say “whatever” when someone makes fun of the fact that you don’t own a lot of clothes and you wear the same things over and over again.

You have to learn to endure the line of questioning that comes when people find out you don’t have a job and are taking a chance on pursuing your passions.

You have to be the “party-pooper” that chooses not to get drunk or even drink at all on a night out, even if you insist you’ll have just as much fun anyways.

You have to be strong enough to say “no” to things you don’t want to do, even if people assume you should say “yes” because it’s what they want you to do.

You have to be confident that even though you aren’t in the same place as your friends that own homes, have kids and are married, that there’s nothing wrong or weird about the way that you’ve chosen to live.

You have to go against popular opinion, time and time again, knowing it’d be so much easier if you had it in you to live your life like everyone else.

So maybe we’re not in high school anymore. But sometimes, it sure feels like we still are.

39 thoughts on “we’re not in high school anymore

  1. Bethany @ Journey to Ithaca

    AMEN, Sandra! We’re dealing with a lot of that, since we’re bailing on the house and heading across the country without much of a plan. It’s amazing how much “advice” people have to give. Ugh.

    But whatever. I was never in the cool crowd anyway. ;-)

  2. Maria

    Right on! What would I do without the internet?! I find so much inspiration and support from different bloggers, like you. :) For me it’s just as much about becoming aware of the high school group of people that lives inside of my head – and to not succomb to their voices when I really yearn for something else. And sometimes I have wanted to stand up for myself in one way or another, but I wouldn’t because I was scared it would be uncomfortable. Now I’m getting better at just accepting that, yes, it will be uncomfortable, but I can do it anyway. Because not living an authentic life sure is A LOT more uncomfortable in the long run! I don’t always (or maybe not even most of the time, I’m not sure) manage to muster up the courage though. It’s a practice for me, and I believe it does get easier.

  3. Lorna

    I noticed when I was at school that when I waited for someone to do something I wanted to do I could wait forever. If I chose to do it anyway, someone invariably wanted to do it with me.

  4. Jean

    I have found that there are a few people whose criticism I value – and yes, one of those is someone I knew in high school (and even then we were old friends). Sometimes the criticism is not what I want to hear but need to hear. But they KNOW me – that’s the key point. They know who I am, my aspirations and inspirations. They aren’t trying to shove me into a definition they read on a website or heard on a talkshow.

    Maria, I really admire that you’ve been able to identify your Inner Critic as an obstacle. It took me a long time to do that, ironically while a part of the worst writing group ever. (It was more like high school than high school!) Also, as far as feeling uncomfortable, I really love Julia Cameron’s quote: “At first blush, going sane feels just like going crazy.”

  5. living lagom Post author

    We are our own worst enemy, but we also need to be our own biggest fan too. It’s hard to be 100 percent confident each time and say the words that only seem to come to us after the fact. But like you said, we keep practicing!

  6. living lagom Post author

    Isn’t it funny how that works?! I do enjoy doing things on my own now too. I don’t have to worry if someone is enjoying themselves or if they liked the movie I selected. It took me 27 years before I was ever able to do anything on my own…but at least I finally did.

  7. living lagom Post author

    It’s ideal to have a strong support system, but not everyone has that. Sometimes we can be influenced by people that are more forceful in getting their opinions across. I often ask and listen to the advice that is offered to me, but I don’t necessarily follow everything I hear. On several occasions I’ve been ambushed by people that thought they had my best interests at heart, but were really just projecting their own fears and insecurities. I was strong enough to do what I wanted to anyways, but those conversations still linger in my mind. It’s interesting that some of those same people ended up getting over their own fears and doing what they wanted to do as well. You have to be very careful who you take advice from. Trust in yourself.

  8. Maria

    Thank you Jean! :) I’m waiting to borrow “Embracing your inner critic” by Hal and Sidra Stone – really looking forward to reading it! I agree, sometimes criticism can be very valuable. It depends on the true intention and insight behind it I guess. Sometimes my best friend will call me out on responding (often in my mind) unreasonably to some situation, and that can be really helpful.

  9. Maria

    ..but I agree with Sandra aswell, in the end you’ve got to trust yourself. You never know if someone is just projecting.

  10. Alison

    I’m so glad that you choose to take a different path… then I can live vicariously through you (and your blog!). I think most of the people who offer advice are just trying to justify it to themselves with why they settle for a boring and predictable life!

  11. Eimear

    A thousand times yes! I am still trying to work up the courage to go to the cinema by myself – something I’ve wanted to do for so long but still have that little voice in my head that’s saying people are judging me. I don’t think anyone actually cares! I’m only 20, so I’m still trying to break that secondary school mentality. I WILL do it before the end of this year though! :)

  12. Jean

    Ah, I see! I was thinking more along the lines of high school, when advice came from people who clueless or outright using their “advice” as weapons. The few people whose opinion I value highly are excellent “sounding boards” rather than taking it upon themselves to give unsolicited advice. I hope you have a few of those, too!

  13. Jean

    That’s a great book! Haven’t used it myself, but one of my former co-workers said it changed her “voice dialogue” and therefore changed her life. I saw the results when she followed her dreams to a calling and lifestyle. I wish you ever luck (and joy!) in pursuing yours.

    What opened my eyes about self-criticism and outside influences was Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way. At the beginning when I had to write down the voice of my Inner Critic, I realized that the part of me that said “Oh, this exercise is stupid” was it! Very eye-opening. Her description of “poisonous playmates” and “crazymakers” made me realize that the very person who invited me into the group was simultaneously undermining it. That was before the term “fre-nemy” was invented. :)

  14. Jean

    True. There’s a bit of “don’t go near the fire that burned me,” isn’t there?

  15. Nicole

    It’s been a long time since I’ve commented, so sorry for the “off topic” post as I play catch-up! First, happy belated birthday!!! Hope it was wonderful! Two, can’t wait to hear about your pilgrimage (the Camino is on my bucket list too – love to walk!). And finally, great post today! I often feel so different from the rest and have struggled to find people to share adventures with. Thankfully I’ve learned to embrace most of my quirks and differences (can’t say I’ve accepted them all, a work in progress ;-)) and have really challenged myself to do things on my own (travel, movies, dinner, join groups) and to not feel that I have to keep up with the Joneses. Your post was a great and powerful reminder to stay true to ourselves, challenge ourselves and be authentic! thanks!

  16. journeytominimalism

    Well written! I’ve been feeling self conscious about the clothes I own – I don’t own many and I tend to wear the same ones every week while some of my coworkers seem to have enough clothes to go weeks without wearing the same thing twice. I am so glad I stopped by your blog to read this post today – it helped remind me that I don’t have to have a lot of clothes, or feel pressured to do things because others are. Thanks so much Sandra! This was great!

  17. living lagom Post author

    Haha! Thanks Alison! There’s nothing wrong with a boring and predictable life, so long as it’s chosen and not, as you said, settled for. And as long as you don’t judge others for choosing something different.

  18. living lagom Post author

    The first time I went alone, I was in another country, so there was no chance of “running into someone I know.” But then when I got back, I kept it up. I mostly go to matinees or movies earlier in the week. I still don’t have the courage to go on a Friday or Saturday night on my own. Maybe one day!

  19. living lagom Post author

    Thank you x 3 (or 4 or 5 – I lost count)! We’re all a work in progress. Anyone who isn’t interested in growing, isn’t interested in living life. It’s hard to find like-minded people when you’re a little on the quirky side. I seem to have groups of friends for each of my different interests, but I actually kind of like it that way. I only wish I had some real life minimalist friends – right now, they’re all virtual!

  20. living lagom Post author

    I think this issue with wearing repeat outfits in a week must be a North American phenomenon. I’ve read a few books on finding your inner French girl that say they wear the same things over and over. And the times I’ve visited Portugal, people wore the same stuff again and again. Even when I temped in London, I had a boss that wore the same suit most days. The next time you feel self-conscious, just say to yourself that you’re actually being quite worldly with your style of dress. I’m going to do that too. :)

  21. Maria (a different one ;))

    I just read the quote below and thought of your blogpost.
    Thanks for the important reminder to “keep up the fight”. It seems to have resonated with many other readers as well, looking at the number of comments :)
    It took me such a long time to figure out that many of the “cool kids” were never actually that cool but afraid to be seen for their real selves and therefore rather to pitty than admire.

    “E.E Cummings wrote, “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight- and never stop fighting.”
    ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

  22. Maria

    Thanks for sharing! I can so relate to the “this exercise is stupid” voice. With time I’m getting pretty good at avoiding the frenemies. I just find them SO draining. I had a look at your blog – good stuff! :D

  23. Adina

    Amen to this! I’m finding the more I break out of the shell to stand up for the authentic me, quite a few of my relationships are getting shaky, but at the same time, I’ve met some amazing like-minded folks who are my inspiration in my quest to be the most authentic me that I can be. A period of transition, loss, gain, hope…. The biggest bonus: I’m more courageous than ever before.

  24. living lagom Post author

    Yes, a period of transition for me as well – though it’s been a rather long and drawn out one. Maybe I’ll always be in transition in some form or another. It’s hard when people see us changing from the person they thought they knew. They like things to stay exactly as they were.

  25. Adina

    Yes, they do. Most like to maintain the status quo. My take is nature and universe is constantly changing, there is a continuous ebb and flow and we need to go with it, wherever it takes us :) Change is the only constant.

  26. Nicole

    Next time you’re in Toronto and have some time, let me know and we can talk minimalism!

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