32 Social Conventions You Don’t Have To Follow Anymore

by Tessa Shull

As generations after generations of parents raise their kids — as I raise mine and as you raise yours — there's a set of unwritten rules that society creates. These rules aren't set in stone, but they do become part of people's lives because they're instilled in the way people function. Unfortunately, the large motivator behind following many of these social conventions is simply the backlash, judgement, or sideways looks you may get when you don't. But the truth is that it's time to stand up and acknowledge the social conventions you don't have to follow anymore.

As I've grown and matured, and as I've seen rawness along with the effects of judgements related to social conventions, it's become more obvious that a lot of the societal standards that exist need to be questioned. They need to be acknowledged for what they are and thrown out the window. When I break down some of the societal beliefs that still remain, they're irrelevant in the progression humanity is working toward, especially in today's world.

There's no reason to feel the need to follow unspoken rules that control who we are, what we truly believe, and even how we live. So if you feel that there are aspects of your life you maintain for appearances, it may be time to acknowledge them and let them go.


Be Humble When You Receive A Compliment

Claire Boniface started an experiment in which she agreed with men who gave her compliments, on dating apps for example, instead of disagreeing or giving a bashful "thanks," according to HuffPost. You don't need to be humble or bashful when you receive a compliment – you can accept, and even agree, with confidence.


Cussing Means You're Unintelligent

Although obscene language is often viewed as a lack of intelligence, it's not. According to Science Alert, comparing scores from both verbal and swearing fluency tasks found that the people who scored highest on the verbal fluency test tended to do best on the swearing fluency. So, if you want to include the occasional f-bomb for influence, don't let societal views hold you back.


You Have To Wait For A Guy To Approach You

Guess what? It's not a man's world. If you want to talk to someone, male or female, it's no longer conventional that a guy approaches you. You're allowed to be bold and go for what you want.


Where You Grew Up Defines Who You Are

Whether you grew up in Beverly Hills or a small, off-the-map town no one's heard of, it doesn't have to define the societal view of who you are or how you were raised. Although it may be easier said than done in many cases, you don't have to let your circumstances define you.


There's Shame In "Hooking Up"

The Odyssey called for an end to slut shaming, saying that it's a societal issue and not a feminist issue. With the double standard surrounding sex, women often feel societally judged for their choices. You, however, have power and say over your own body, and it's important to continue to fight with this outdated societal convention. You can hook up with whomever you see fit, and you also have the right to say "no" without question.


Bras Are A Necessity

Especially for those with a fluid gender identity, the flowery, lace-filled idea of bras may not be appealing; additionally, they're not always comfortable, for anyone. They're, honestly, a chore sometimes, even for those who may like to wear them. According to Bustle, "wearing a bra is a choice, just as shaving and wearing makeup are, and societal expectations of gender simply don't reflect everybody's preferences or identities," and I say amen to that.


You Have To Be A Certain Way To Be Beautiful

Size, shape, color, attire, features, regardless of what form they come in, are all beautiful. The societal idea of the perfect body is total B.S., and whether you have stretch marks from pregnancy, cellulite from being human, or weight from living, the societal idea of beauty is not real. You are.


Emotions Equal Weakness

The idea that being emotional makes you weak or that a person shouldn't cry is quite simply a totally incorrect societal view. According to Elite Daily, being emotional actually makes you strong. The site shared that it also means you form more personal connections, you're more empathetic, passionate, and learn from emotions instead of being governed by them.


You Need A Partner To Be Happy

Have you ever been truly independent? Explored who you are without total family or parental support and without being tied to a relationship? It often takes that for people to realize that you, and only you, truly make yourself happy. It doesn't matter what situation you're in – a marriage, single life, parenting, or otherwise. When you come to the realization the societal view of needing a partner isn't valid, life is so much more enjoyable. Not saying you can't be happy with a partner, but it's OK to admit you can be just as happy on your own.


Husbands Should "Help" Their Partners Around The House

A man named John Hoxie shared an important message about "helping" partners around the house and the stereotypical husband-wife/gender roles dynamic that resonated with hundreds of thousands of people. In it, he said that "Actually, my wife does not need help, she needs a partner. I am a partner at home and through that society are divided functions, but it is not a “help” to do household chores ... I am not a help at home, I am part of the house."


Dads Are Babysitters

According to TODAY mom, Lauren Casper, parents notice over the years that people act surprised to find out dad is "watching" the kids. In my experience they say things like, "Oh, it's nice of dad to babysit," or "How thoughtful of him." Nope, not at all. As a parent in a (trying as hard as we can) equal coparenting situation, dad is just as equal of a parent as mom. This social convention is one you should ignore.


Your Kids Must Always Come First

You know what I've learned about being a mom, giving up my life to my kids or family, and feeling resentful? Kids shouldn't always come first. You can't properly function or take care of others without being at your best, and in turn, this means that keeping a connection with self and taking care of you is essential.


You Can't Do Something Because Of Your Gender

Whether you want to code, become a CEO, train as a pilot, or any other number of things, your gender shouldn't hold you back – regardless of what societal norms have been prior.


You Need To Wear Makeup

Writing about her "no makeup movement" on Lenny, Alicia Keys said, "I was really starting to feel like that — that, as I am, I was not good enough for the world to see. This started manifesting on many levels, and it was not healthy." The idea that you need to cover up is gone, and makeup or not, do what makes you feel powerful.


You Can't Be On Your Phone At The Park

In a powerful piece on HuffPost, the idea of moms on the phone at the park is addressed in a positive and refreshing manner. Moms spend all day watching their kids, making them breakfast, picking out their clothes, playing with them, and so much more. So, if you want to pull out your phone at the park and disconnect for a minute, don't let the societal convention that you shouldn't hold you back.


Your Home Has To Be Clean

The idea that your house needs to be squeaky clean and smell like roses all day, every day is absurd. Whether it's because you're busy with the kids, overwhelmed with work, or just want to take a week off, the societal idea that your house should be spotless is trash.


There's One Kind Of "Perfect" Family

The idea that the "perfect" family is mom, dad, and the kids is over. There are blended families, step parents, couples with different religions, same-sex marriages, and so much more. And every single one of those families is perfect in their own way.


Planning Ahead Is Dead

In a world of spontaneousness and last-minute plans, don't conform to the younger societal norm that planning ahead of time isn't 'in' anymore. Not everything can wait until the day before, and in order to truly stay organized and professional, planning ahead needs to stay.


Silence Is Bad

According to Thought Catalog, "silence is golden, but instead of leaving it be, people insist on filling its void with small talk." Silence doesn't need to be awkward; instead, it can often be enjoyed.


You Need To Look Busy

How many times have you pulled out your phone on the Subway to look important or act like you were texting someone? It's OK to just be in the moment, observing what's going on around you.


Hide Your Feelings

Psych Central shared that being open and acknowledging feelings is important for several reasons: to survive, promote emotional attachment and social interaction, grow, and maintain health. Don't conform to the societal idea that you can't have feelings or show them.


Confrontation Is Bad

There are plenty of groups, families, professional settings, and more where there could literally be an elephant in the room and no one says anything about it. Although people may be used to not bringing up the obvious, it's not a healthy way to live. If there's an issue, a curiosity, or otherwise, don't be afraid to address it.


You Have To Drink In Social Settings

There's a lot of pressure that surrounds women going out in a professional setting or even functioning at home as a mom to drink. If mom's had a hard day, wine. If you're out with the big wigs for work, cocktails. The truth is you don't have to conform to that societal standard. According to Harvard School of Health, drinking is a balancing game, and people shouldn't feel pressured to drink daily or even every time they go out.


Getting Engaged Or Married Is An Accomplishment

Growing up, so many of the strong, wonderful women I know felt that their sole purpose was to find someone to be in a relationship with forever. The truth is that you're happiest when you're happy with yourself. Engagement and marriage is not an accomplishment or an end game. It's something you do if you find someone you want to spend your life with – not something you waste your life seeking out. The societal standard that women can't be whole without a partner just isn't true.


You Can't Wear A Bikini If You're A Mom

As a mom, you can wear whatever you're comfortable in – stretch marks and all. So, don't let societal judgement hold you back from wearing a bikini, halter top, shorts, or any other piece of clothing you may (or may not) want to wear.


You Have To Define Your Sexuality

Not everyone fits into a perfect little box, and that's perfectly fine. As Lane More wrote in Cosmopolitan:

It's possible to be a self-identified straight girl who also has feelings for her best female friend. It's possible to be a self-identified lesbian who thinks that guy over there is hot and one time she thought about him while she masturbated. It's possible to be a self-identified gay man who would totally, literally sleep with Jennifer Lawrence. You choose your labels. You choose who you show them to. You choose when they change, if they change. None of us are just one of anything.

It's perfectly OK if you don't know exactly how you feel or don't feel the need to put a label on your sexuality.


You Should Hide Your Anxiety

When I first suffered with postpartum anxiety (PPA), I had no idea what was happening to me. You know why? Because at the time, and still today, people felt like they couldn't talk about it. That's not true. I make a point to talk about it whenever it's present and whenever I can tell someone doesn't understand – and if you're comfortable, so can you.


Your Period Is A Secret

Periods should not be a shameful secret that requires women to sneak pads into the bathroom and have secret codes to ask for a tampon. Women bleed monthly, and they always have. It's about time the societal idea that they can't talk about it is squashed for good.


Attire Is Distracting To Men

"By telling boys that girls have to change because boys are distracted by them, we are perpetuating the nefarious “boys will be boys” ethos that is so dangerous to both boys and girls," according to The Good Men Project. Dressing to help avoid men from feeling "distracted" is a ridiculous societal standard you don't have to follow.


You Can't Talk About Mental Health

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shared that "the societal perception of mental illness won’t change if we don’t work to change it." There is a movement to talk about mental illness and keep conversations going. Join it.


Be Grateful For The Pay You're Offered

According to the National Organization for Women (NOW), "for full-time, year-round workers, women are paid on average only 77% of what men are paid." Don't take less than what you're worth. It's OK to ask for what you deserve to make, and demand you're paid fairly.


Tattoos Or Piercings Are Unprofessional

According to Thought Catalog, "deciding to permanently draw on your body doesn’t lower your IQ," and it shouldn't decrease your chance of getting a job. Intelligence is based on your brain, not your body.


Only One View Is Correct

There are an endless amount of religions, personal views, and even political views, and none of them are black and white. There is not a "one and only" correct way to live, and the sooner people stop conforming to the idea there is, the sooner people can become more accepting and perceptive.

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