How to Live an Unconventional Life & Show Mr. Average the Middle Finger

Writing by Conni Biesalski 
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60 to 80 percent of adults find the task of thinking different uncomfortable.

Some even find it exhausting (Source).

But thinking different is a big part of being unconventional and living a lifestyle beyond the average.

If you think like everyone else you’re going to be like everyone else.

If you think average, you are going to be average. Makes sense, right?

I believe that if we were all stuck in our four-year old minds, we’d have one amazing unconventional and creative world out there.

But we’re not. Instead institutions like schools (ugh) but also our home environment intervene our brilliant developments and punish us for thinking or being different. Seth Godin thinks schools steal our dreams. So over the years we lose the skills to come up with crazy ideas and amazing plans – they’d be too crazy anyway right?


This post is way overdue. Initially I wanted this to be one of my very first blogposts back in November of last year when I launched. But it didn’t happen.

The reason I couldn’t write this as one of the first posts is because the concept of an unconventional life is massive and complex. I can’t do a topic justice if I can’t get my head around it.

Back then, six months ago, I couldn’t rationalise it in one go. I’ve been able to write around it a lot in many ways, knowing what it means to me, but until now, I haven’t been able to explain it properly.

I believe I’m at a point now, where I have thought and pondered and wondered and talked to friends about the concept so much that it’s time to get some of my results and conclusions out and into the world, to you.

I’m not trying to be holistic or comprehensive here. It’s only an attempt at decoding “Unconventinalism” (a word that doesn’t exist. I will use it anyway.). 

What is to follow is my opinion about The Unconventional Life. Don’t quote me (although I would feel flattered if you did of course).


What is an Unconventional Life, Like, Really?

Ok, let’s cut the crap. So many bloggers (including me) talk about living life unconventionally, but hardly anyone ever has the balls or the vagina to properly truly explain what an unconventional life is really. So let’s give it a shot.

I realised I have been living an unconventional life and been doing unconventional things, whenever I found myself talking to people about what I have done and what I believe in in life and they don’t get it or ask a lot of “Why” questions. Highly frustrating sometimes.

Unconventional means breaking loose from the status quo. It means doing something remarkable, being remarkable. Aiming for the extraordinary.

It’s the path less travelled. Taking alternative routes. Doing things differently, the unorthodox way.

Unconventional means you don’t live life based on traditions and conventions, but based on your own terms.

Living unconventional means breaking free of conformity, not accepting rules or standards as the norm at which to base your life and personality on.

It is questioning and rejecting what is generally done or believed.

Unconventional can but doesn’t have to mean crazy. Sometimes crazy can be unconventional. Other times it’s just madness.

Above all, it means taking the courage to stand up for yourself

An unconventional life can involve any number of decisions about where one lives, how one lives, works, etc. that falls outside the mainstream. (I consider mainstream = average)

Being unconventional means doing things out of the ordinary and many times that might be against social norms.

Living an unconventional life means you think out of the box, you chose different ways of thinking

Being unconventional for the most part is taking up the courage to do something different and swim against the flow.


Unconventional VS. Unconventional?!

Considering that the word unconventional is highly subjective as it differs from culture to culture (for example American versus Italian versus Indian versus Colombian) and location to location (big city versus small town such as New York versus Bentonville, Arkansas), conventional and unconventional don’t have the same meaning everywhere. Conventions are unwritten rules and depend highly on social norms and traditions, which differ regionally but also within a region (subcultures).
However, you can ask yourself these questions to determine how unconventional you are:

How often do you seem to be similar to those around you? How much do you seem to follow social norms? How often do you seem to have a different way of thinking? In comparison to the people around you, how average are you? 


The Evil Mainstream

Here is what I believe to be the mainstream, although things are changing slowly:

  • People have jobs that they attend to mostly Monday to Friday from 9-5 or any other combination that equals 40 hours a week.
  • They have a certain amount of vacation days a year.
  • They get married and have kids (2/3 of them will get divorced).
  • They look for happiness in things (although many people wouldn’t admit that) and enjoy shopping and accumulating stuff, as well as upgrading their TV, car, computer, mobile phone etc.
  • They are born in one country and it remains the centre of their life until they die.
  • They have relationships with people from the opposite sex from their own country.
  • They own a TV and use it regularly.
  • They are either pessimists or realists and/or use the words “be realistic” frequently.
  • They travel to comfortable and safe places.
  • They don’t question authority and believe in tradition and conventional ways of doing things (they would say things like “it’s always been / done like that”).
  • They criticize people who are different. 


Conni’s Unconventional World

Which brings me to how I happen to live an unconventional life. I’m not writing all this to brag. I actually couldn’t care less about proving myself to you. This is actually pretty personal stuff. I’ll tell you anyway.

  1. I believe in minimalist values, hardly own anything (105 things) and don’t enjoy shopping.
  2. I enjoy leftist politics, Marxism and believe in a base wage for every living being on this planet. I don’t like big corporations and people with shit lots of money who don’t share their wealth. Not in a world in which inequalities abound and intensify. Not in a world in which the majority of people struggle to make a living.
  3. I have strong opinions and express them.
  4. I have had many more international lovers and partners, male and female, than from my own country.
  5. I despise the 9-5 and sitting in an office all day every day. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I now work for myself, when I want, where I want. I’m also a scuba dive instructor, because I like life underwater more than above water.
  6. I have lived, travelled and worked around the world since the age of 15 and have no plans to settle down.
  7. I have been a vegetarian all my life. I find eating dead animals disgusting and feel sorry for how we treat them to eat them. I’m thinking about going vegan.
  8. I hold an M.A. In Communication and Media, but would 100% prefer working as a scuba dive instructor for the rest of my life and write on this blog.
  9. Most of my friends are scattered all around the world.
  10. I’m at ease with overcoming fears, taking risks (personal or financial) …and ok with failing at both.
  11. I don’t dream my dreams, I live them. That’s because I like taking action more than talking about taking action.
  12. I’m not a realist. I’m an optimistic dreamer.
  13. For 28 years I never thought I would go down the solopreneur route. And here I am, doing it anyway, despite all odds.
  14. I hate TV.
  15. I am in a same-sex relationship, might never get married, might never have kids. (But who the fuck knows)
  16. I love questioning and challenging authority and rules.

There, 16 points on how I live unconventionally. The thing is though, I don’t try. And I don’t have to. It’s just me. All the points up there make me who I am. And if you have an issue with any of them, I advise you to go away, now (this blog is my home, I built it. No room for homophobia and intolerance. Go and read Chris Guillebeau instead, he’s straight and married).


How You, Yes You, Can Live an Unconventional Life

Some people seem to naturally be unconventional and live an unconventional lifestyle. More than often though, people make conscious decisions.

I don’t believe an unconventional life happens over night. But you can start living it anytime.

1. Be a dreamer.
Do you have a dream? Many people live average lives because they don’t have dreams or passions. But they are so important. Reclaim your dreams. Allow yourself to be passionate about anything you desire. 

2. Align your values, beliefs and dreams to your life.
To align means to arrange things in a line, to put them in relation. If your values, beliefs and dreams are not aligned, you won’t be able to live all of them properly and clearly. Living a life out of alignment means constantly contradicting yourself.

3. Stop caring about what other people think about you.
Because those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter. It’s that simple and true. Other people’s opinions are worth nothing, nada, zero, null. Other people don’t live your life, you are. If you want to do crazy shit, do crazy shit. If you want to walk around like Elvis, go and walk around like Elvis for fucks sake. If people say you can’t or shouldn’t do something, do it anyway. Just stop caring. I promise you one thing: If you care about other people’s opinions, let it be your friends or family or strangers, you will never, ever live an unconventional life.

4. Do what you want, not what you should.
Believing in doing what you should means trusting other people’s opinions and society’s conventions and rules. Doing what you want is not giving a damn and believing in yourself.

5. Be a doer.
Don’t just think about doing cool shit, take action and go for it. You won’t be living an unconventional life sitting on your ass all day watching Telly and doing everything the way you have always done them.

6. Test your comfort zone.
Then stretch it. If living an unconventional lifestyle was super easy and comfy, then everyone would be doing it. Sometimes you have to step outside of your comfort zone to get to the awesome stuff.

7. Look into yourself and be yourself.
I feel like most people have no idea who they are. They end up living a superficial and average life. You have to know yourself, so that you can be yourself. If you try to be someone else or copy other people’s way of doing things, you’re stuck in conventional and boring. You are unique, show it to the world. There is no one else like you, so living your individuality is what being unconventional is actually all about. It’s not about living someone else’s ‘unconventional’, but yours and only yours.

8. Criticise and have your own opinion about life and the world.
HAVE AN OPINION. And say it! No matter how strong or different from the majority or your peers. Stand up for what you believe in! I hate people with no opinions, who you can’t have a proper conversation about the world and values and politics and lifestyles with. To have an opinion, you have to read (not necessarily the news, but books etc.) and talk to other people, engage in discussions and arguments. Look inside of yourself and ask, what’s my own opinion about this? Don’t just adopt everyone else’s. It’s totally cool to disagree. No more yes and amen.

9. Realise yourself and find an outlet and peers.
We all have desires and needs and passions. Once you figure them out, YOU HAVE GOT TO let them come out and manifest themselves in your life. This is also called self-realisation. Many people have gotten sick from holding in and living other people’s lives. Highly UN-recommended. You want to be a musician because you can’t live without music and your heart is in nothing else? Screw your bloody Business degree then. Do what you love, the rest will take of itself. But only, if you really believe in it. Don’t live a half-hearted life. get confident about your passions and desires. Find people who do that too, connect with them, exchange and inspire each other. That’s what unconventional lives are made of.

10. Do epic shit.
Yes seriously. Go and do stuff no one (or hardly anyone) has done before. Like walking backwards around the world. Or pushing a pram with your baby across your country. Or reading a book a day. Or living with nothing. If you do average stuff, you’re gonna be average. If you do epic stuff, you’re gonna be epic. 

11. Get inspired!!
Go and find people who live a life you admire and find out how they are doing it. Then figure out a way how you can make it happen for yourself. Remember to pick and chose. Not every lifestyle that one person lives and is happy might suit someone else 100%. Combine what inspires you with what you believe in and feel comfortable with.

12. Get in touch with your creativity.
Creativity is a major driving force and can take you to incredible places in your mind (and life). We all have a source of creativity, all you have to do is find it and tap into it. Boring people have a hard time spelling the word ‘creativity’, awesome unconventional people come up with ideas and use them. 

13. Figure out your mission in life, then go live it. And share it.
You want to impact the world awesomely? Find a way to do that. Figuring out your mission means also figuring out the values you live and believe in. 

14. Find a cause that you believe in and integrate it in your life.
Eg. You want to save the oceans? Become part of an ocean conservation organisation and take part in their activities and projects. Or you want to change people’s lives for the better? Start a bloody blog and spread your message.

15. Take risks and be ok with failures.
When you experiment with unconventional lifestyle you might end up walking on unstable or unproven ground. That’s awesome, good on you, it takes courage. But taking risks means being ok with whichever way it turns out, which could also be down and out. Fail. Just take failures and mistakes as they come, get over them, try again or try something different. That’s just life.

Essentially, if you like to life a kickass unconventional life, ignore everybody, including your rational, realistic self.

Be unrealistic, irrational and for World Nomad’s sake: Be comfortable to think different!

PS. Don’t strive to live an unconventional life for the sake of being unconventional. That’s just silly.


So this is. This is all I have. What do you think? What does being unconventional mean to you? How are you living an unconventional life that shows the mainstream the middle finger? Share in the comments!

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21 Responses to How to Live an Unconventional Life & Show Mr. Average the Middle Finger

  1. Wil says:

    There are about 5 posts here. Thought provoking. Inspiring. My humble vote/feedback = I like reading this, and would read more if in smaller, more easily digestible packages.

    Perhaps this would be too conventional? Looking fwd to reading more of this post. Hope I make it back to this one.

    I tell folks “you can have the best message in the world, but if people don’t read it…”. Then again, the blogs we write aren’t just for the reader.

    You have a lot of good stuff to say. Make it accessible to the masses. Just my opinion.

    Thanks again.

    • Conni says:

      Cheers for the Feedback, Wil.

      I alternate with blogposts length. This one is a massive one because there is a lot to say about it. Yes, I could have cut it up into several posts, true. I could have also turned it into a little ebook. I will continue to experiment with formats and blogpost lengths, I’m sure, so your feedback is very valuable!

  2. Ricky Ferdon says:

    Preach it sista! Just shared with a young friend – Namaste!

  3. Bret says:

    I appreciate all that your creative work inspired you to share. It was just what I was looking for. How refreshing! :)

  4. Dwayne says:

    This is a awesome blog post! I had no problem with the length of this article. In fact, this was one of the best post I’ve read in the last 3 years. Please go deeper and turn it into a eBook. I would be the first to buy such a book from you. Thanks so much for excellent blog Conni

  5. Epic post Conni!

    Very well thought through and written. Must have taken for ever to write this.

    Can’t wait to catch up again and hear more about your new acquired insights and the adventures you have been on over the last year since we last saw each other.

  6. Wonderfully done. Fantastic grasp of the language is evident in your writing ability. Those who truly write from the heart are able to move people, and I think you’ve managed that here!!

  7. Stef says:

    Thanks for this damn inspiring post, you rock!

  8. a says:

    Hey there! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using
    for this site? I’m getting tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with
    hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another
    platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  9. David says:

    I like this. It is very much in line with my way of thinking. Certainly living an unconventional lifestyle may be a difficult thing to do, but so is realizing and accepting, in the end, that we lived a life without taking any risks. It is best, in my opinion, to just be ourselves and live life with abandon.

  10. Hailey Julia says:

    Nice post! Its great that you live the lifestyle that suits you. I think the most important decision one can make for oneself and the world is living deliberately. Your lifestyle is the result of this, however it is not necessarily the only outcome of living deliberately. One could have some aspects of a “conventional” lifestyle without necessarily living an “evil” life. As long as they have awareness of how their decision impacts themselves and others any conclusion that they come to is good. It’s not about the conclusion, it’s about thinking unconventionally.

  11. Zane Chesivoir says:

    Conni, I strongly agree with many of your points ESPECIALLY being creative and traveling and being strongly opposed to a 9 to 5 lifestyle. I am a junior in college and I feel highly optimistic about the future but I will acknowledge that the world is not all sunshine and rainbows. My vision for the future is to teach English abroad and spend the majority of my life traveling the world and dedicating my life to personal development and achieving my highest potential. I have no intention to participate in the rat race, constantly burn myself out and make my life only focused on my work and completely devoid of any happiness. I refuse to be the person who says “I have to work late tonight” or “I wish I allowed myself to be happier” or “I wish I didn’t work so hard.” Society conditions us into believing that we should work for 40 hours a week and get no pleasure out of work. I love work that allows me to think unconventionally and creatively. I’ve always disliked rules and I always had trouble interpreting the directions, taking tests, and “acting normal”. I’m a huge lover of your website, ZenHabits, and Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Nonconformity and The Happiness of Support. I define conformity as living a miserable and work-filled life where people sabotage their own happiness, become miserable workaholics who are money rich and time poor, who are always constantly rushed and stressed, who sabotage their own happiness, who are unable to relax, and who have so many regrets about life but their biggest regrets involve working too much and being unhappy. I refuse to become the miserable workaholic as an adult. I strongly admire highly eccentric people who dye their hair a wide variety of colors, who have a wide variety of creative outlets, and who have a bubbly and contagious enthusiasm without being obnoxious or overly chipper. I strongly respect people like you Conni and I see you as a potential friend.

  12. deb says:

    i fantisize about living a life free from the constant monotny. some days it is hard to take. however, how does one with a husband and children who are dependant on me for the financials just to give the basics. how can one just pickup and give up the security that they need from me? am i too old and stuck to find a new life with my family?

  13. john says:

    Feel free to show your tits.

  14. Vicky says:

    I really enjoyed reading this,
    Very honest and genuinely inspiring
    Thank you

  15. Noella Savoie says:

    I am an unconventional senior Who is looking for An off grid economy community to join

  16. Conventional & Proud says:

    To live an “unconventional” life you are defining your lifestyle by reference to the conventional. Convention thus dictates your habits.
    Saying “I’m unconventional” is like saying “I’m honest.” It immediately raises suspicions about the veracity of the speaker.
    PS I have to leave my email address to post here – that’s really unconventional.

  17. Paul says:

    I enjoyed this very much. I am also an unconventional person. I see being very conventional as an obstacle to intelligent living. Why live a life doing things simply because they are traditions? Seems awefully empty and disconected way to live. For example, in many workplaces in the USA people practice something called “Secret Santa”, which exchanging gifts with co-workers you may not like. Gift-giving should be the natural result of a friendly relationship, not something forced in a social and work-setting. So, traditions like this are unnatural and coerced. Not very inteligent: Just follow along people. Very little brainpower required!