Many in society do not think twice to doubt what is regarded as “socially normal”. The result – we follow the herd mentality and perceive things as “right” or a normal way of being, when they really are not. We don’t stop enough to ask, “wait a minute, just because everyone else is subscribing to this behaviour, does this fit with my core values?” We follow the footsteps of the media, our friends and our peers. And hey, if everyone else is doing it, then it’s cool, right?
I’m no angel, and admit that I’ve made my share of mistakes. But after my entire youth of seeing gangs as “normal”, excessive partying as “fun” and obsessing over physical perfection as “reality”, I decided to wake up – I had to. I realized that the world I was living in was not okay, and as long as I kept surrounding myself with people who lived in that same bubble, I’d never see what was really wrong with the picture. Ignorance is not bliss. Do you choose to use the status-quo as your compass, or, your values, morals and better judgement?
Here are five normalizations of society that just seemed to be accepted and followed that need a good reality check:
1. The “Glamourization” of Cocaine
It is absolutely insane how popular cocaine is – a drug that most users will say they only use “casually”. Let’s clarify one thing – there is no such thing as “casual use” nor is there a “safe amount” of doing coke. Research shows that it only takes a very small amount of cocaine to have catastrophic and life threatening consequences. There is a myth amongst drug users that you need to snort a copious amount of the stuff for it to be dangerous – this is not true. It is correct that a night of cocaine binging can cause death by overdose. However, even small amounts (and infrequent usage) can result in severe health problems. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), most fatalities associated with cocaine use are caused by cardiovascular (heart attack) or cerebrovascular accidents (stroke).
I don’t know how coke got so glamourized – perhaps because it’s an expensive drug so it is perceived as elite and reserved for the rich. Perhaps because it is associated to rockstars and celebrities. Not sure what is sexy about having constant sniffles and the need to rub your nose because your nasal passages have been destroyed. Whether it’s cocaine or another drug, there is a fundamental root issue when people feel the need to take a dangerous substance in order to chase a high. The thing about cocaine is, you don’t have to do it numerous times in order to have it start controlling your brain. This is where the misperception lies. You can do it just a few times a year, and your brain will have created new circuits. Then it’s no longer about will power or discipline – your brain has changed.
Our brains are wired to ensure that we will repeat life-sustaining activities by associating those activities with pleasure or reward. Whenever this reward circuit is activated, the brain notes that something important is happening that needs to be remembered, and teaches us to do it again and again, without thinking about it. Because drugs stimulate the same circuit, we learn to abuse drugs in the same way.
Recovering from drug addiction is a challenging path. This post is not to pass a moral judgement on those who use, however, it is to give perspective to the usage of a drug that is way too often glamourized in society, which minimizes the real, life damaging effects it can have.
2. The “Let’s Get Wasted” Mentality
The bragging rights of getting wasted run rampant on Facebook. It’s as if people feel proud to announce how hungover they are or wasted they got after a crazy night of partying. Acting foolish and uncontrollable when intoxicated is seen as funny rather than concerning.
Yes, drinking a little too much wine on the occasion here and there happens, but purposely putting one’s health and body at risk, for the objective to release, escape, or to be more socially adept signals a deeper issue. For some, getting intoxicated is the only way they know how to have fun. Needing to rely on a substance in order to handle stress or have a good time is just a Band-Aid to a root-issue. An issue that no matter how many shots of tequila you have, no matter how much you try to numb it, it will not go away.
3. Females Acting Like Sex Toys
The objectification of women is an issue that has been around since the beginning of time, and because of that, it’s often accepted as natural or normal. Why do females feel the need to present themselves like sex toys? Perhaps because that’s what we learned (and continue to learn) as a way of gaining empowerment, of getting what we want, of attracting a mate, of feeling beautiful and special. But – that’s not the result we get. And when we are treated like the sexual vixens we exude, a whole lot of us females don’t feel that empowerment we hoped for, and get a bashing to our self esteem and self worth. So what do we do? We repeat the cycle – we desire to feel wanted and special and use the same strategy that hasn’t worked out every other time – because that’s the only way we know.
Empowerment doesn’t come from throwing around sex. It doesn’t come from getting hit on at the bar. It doesn’t come from dating a guy for his money. Females need to learn how to separate faux-confidence and empowerment. Empowerment comes from loving and respecting yourself – and your body. It comes from your accomplishments, having integrity with your values, showing care and love to others…
Perhaps it’s the warped messages of fairytales that causes females to search for a wealthy prince to sweep them off their feet. The longing of a life so you can one day live a life of brunches and Balenciaga bags. Does this sometimes come true and end happily ever after? Sure, there are cases of it. However, in reality, which most of us live in, it doesn’t. And if it does, it comes at a price.
Ladies – sleeping with a rich guy doesn’t get you his money. You get that, right? You may get to borrow his car, eat fancy dinners and get some lavish gifts, but sooner or later, he gets bored of you, he cheats on you or for whatever reason, you break up. And you’re back to square one. You don’t get his money – you get to lease a lifestyle. If you think about it, if you date guys for their money, you’re may just be really bad at math. If you break down the numbers, you’d actually make more money being a escort/prostitue than the amount you’d get dating a guy for his money. I’m not saying to not fall in love with a nice, wealthy man, I’m saying don’t sleep with him solely because of his cashflow.
Well really, what I”m saying is, make your own money and stop being impressed by rich assholes who don’t really care about you. The price you end up paying is just not worth it.
5. ME Entitlement
I’m part of Generation Y and I’m 100% guilty for at times feeling entitled, even when I have done nothing to deserve what I’m vying for. Oops. It’s not a healthy or productive mentality. We think suddenly that because we have social media, we deserve to have every thought, complaint and statement heard. We want everything now but are too lazy to put in the effort to get it. We forget that hard work, commitment, determination and rolling up your sleeves is how you succeed in life. But regardless of what generation you come from, one thing holds true: no one owes you anything.
Question the status-quo. Question what the herd is doing and what is deemed as “normal”. Think about your values and use that as your compass. Once you change your perspective, you change your life.