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.
- I believe in minimalist values, hardly own anything (105 things) and don’t enjoy shopping.
- 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.
- I have strong opinions and express them.
- I have had many more international lovers and partners, male and female, than from my own country.
- 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.
- I have lived, travelled and worked around the world since the age of 15 and have no plans to settle down.
- 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.
- 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.
- Most of my friends are scattered all around the world.
- I’m at ease with overcoming fears, taking risks (personal or financial) …and ok with failing at both.
- I don’t dream my dreams, I live them. That’s because I like taking action more than talking about taking action.
- I’m not a realist. I’m an optimistic dreamer.
- For 28 years I never thought I would go down the solopreneur route. And here I am, doing it anyway, despite all odds.
- I hate TV.
- I am in a same-sex relationship, might never get married, might never have kids. (But who the fuck knows)
- 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!