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Coloring Outside the Lines

kawaiidaigakusei at 12:00AM, May 2, 2016
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I like to follow the rules.

I grew up in a world where green means “Go” and red means “Stop” (while yellow sometimes means “Drive As Fast As You Can”). Usually if there is a rule written somewhere, I probably abide by it. The benefit of following rules is that I seldom get in trouble. The pitfall is that it limits the spontaneity that I strive to have in my life.

As children, we were given limits. We were not allowed to play with certain equipment, lines were drawn that we were not allowed to cross, we had to raise our hand in order to speak. The ones who followed directions were rewarded and the ones who did not were reprimanded. I guess it was just one way we could learn right from wrong and how to fit into normal behavior.

As the years went on, I was challenged to “Think Outside the Box” when solving problems, “Take the Road Less Traveled” to live an exciting life, and “March to the Beat of a Different Drum” and not become part of the herd. These ideas were fun and daring, but I began to notice that most adults really like to define what constitutes “normal” behavior and anyone who continues to veer off the path right into adulthood is considered an outsider and seen as weird.

It turns out that the more rules I follow, the more robotic I feel. I fear that my love of following a lot of rules will make my life very boring.

I was sitting on a playground one day and I heard a whistle being blown by an adult. Almost every student on the playground stopped in their tracks and froze for a few moment, I looked over to the students who did not stop moving when they heard the sound of the whistle and I laughed and thought how wonderful my childhood could have been if I was one of the children who broke the rules at an early age. It bet it would have been fun!

comment

anonymous?

PaulEberhardt at 4:06AM, May 5, 2016

As a kid I tended to follow the rules when they suited me. It taught me (even if very slowly) that there's usually a reason why they're there. The trick is in finding out what consequences you can live with, and it's astonishingly many. I guess when you grow up you add some more rules to follow when you notice that they're the ones that have to do with respect for others. I can recommend the following experiment: have dinner together with a few college friends where everyone agrees to dispense with all table manners; unsurprisingly everyone will be totally grossed out by everyone else, but it's still astonishing how soon that point is reached. It's kind of similar with the way you dress, too.

Whirlwynd at 11:47AM, May 2, 2016

I didn't break a lot of rules when I was a kid, but I didn't like them either. (I recall being a very "letter of the law, not the spirit" kid lol) College was one of the best times of my life because suddenly a whole bunch of things that would have got me in trouble in high school didn't matter anymore. But back then I was never in a position of any kind of authority or responsibility for anyone but myself. For the past ten years I've been a quality control inspector in the industrial world, and now also a safety coordinator. It's my job to enforce the rules of production. Having clear-cut rules there makes my job infinitely easier, especially when you have a numbers person for a manager who is demanding to know why the production line has been down for five minutes omg we're losing $2000 an minute can't we let this slide?

KimLuster at 8:30AM, May 2, 2016

I think that's what wisdom really is - leaning to know where such balancing lines are... cuz there's no logical way to know!

KimLuster at 8:25AM, May 2, 2016

As with all things, balance and moderation is key! Society a culture literally could not exist without rules - but taken to the extreme, too much rule-following just destroya creativity and drive!

bravo1102 at 1:16AM, May 2, 2016

Let me go my own way, ignore the horn and get hit by a bus as I fall into a hole.

bravo1102 at 1:14AM, May 2, 2016

When in Rome do as the Romans do. Otherwise so long as you neither hurt yourself or others do as you will. And the kids that ignored the whistle may have been hearing impair2. It takes practice to totally ignore loud noises. Practiced insocience can be good for instilling confidence but bad when it comes to having to react to danger.

ozoneocean at 1:00AM, May 2, 2016

Most rules are pretty good to abide by when they facilitate social cohesion and that no one else's rights are trampled on by your own excesses- a lot of social-culture unspoken rules can be pretty restrictive and silly: Adults don't behave like that, adults don't dress like this, those things are only for kids, women should only do things that way, that's not manly etc. If you want to fit in better with most other people and be liked more it's better to follow those unspoken rules, but going your own way will usually attract the people to you that you really LIKE being friends with. :)


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