"Normal." "It is what it is." "This is how it's always been." Social norms are dangerous, because we accept them as reality since they're common, even if we know something's not right. Normal does not equal correct, fair, or appropriate. Not only are there certain habits we should question, but there are some social norms that need to go away completely.
We're not typically encouraged to question or challenge social norms when we're younger. On the contrary, we're taught to abide by them. It's one of the reasons we grow up with toxic ideas like that "real" men don't cry, or that we have to dress or act a certain way to make friends, or even succumb to peer pressure. In reality, social rules exist only because we've created them.
If you don't believe me, all you have to do is look at other societies and cultures, whose norms are totally different. For instance — the other day everyone balked at the idea of IKEA making burgers out of bugs, but billions of people around the world eat bugs as an everyday staple. Really and truly, we make the rules — and what we consider "normal" is usually just a product of the way we were raised, or the culture we grew up in.
If social norms are cramping your style, you're not alone. Here are 16 we need to do away with, according to Reddit.
1. Getting Touchy-Feeling With Extended Family
Forced affection is beyond awkward. "Family" doesn't always equal "close." Won't a quick hug suffice?
2. Opening Gifts In Front Of People
Is there anyone out there who actually enjoys doing this? It's uncomfortable AF, especially if you don't like the gift and have to totally fake it. "Thank you so much, Barbara! I LOVE my new pet rock..."
3. "Manly" And "Girly" Drinks
Take it from this gal, whose boyfriend loves fruity drinks: men don't have to drink beer and women don't have to drink cutesy cocktails. Drink whatever tickles your tastebuds.
4. Making Plans That Will Never Happen
We do this to be polite, but it's oh so fake. I've lost count of how many lunches and coffee dates I've talked about with sorta-friends, that never ended up happening. Can't we all just be real with each other?
5. Faking Happiness
I do think there is some validity to the saying, "fake it 'til you make it." Then again, nothing makes me giggle like a person who yells, "LOUSY," when you ask them how they are. Way to keep it real.
6. Family Is Everything
Family is everything; but you also get to pick who your family is. Being related by blood doesn't automatically mean you and your fam are tight. For some of us, our friends are our family.
7. Letting Work Define You
This is a challenging one, because from the time we're little, we're told part of the ~American dream~ is getting the big job. We were not put on this planet to work, and you should always value your own happiness and wellbeing above all else — even if that means taking a career path that differs from what you were "supposed" to do.
8. Men Don't Cry
We fault men for being insensitive, and then we ridicule them when they cry. Instead of making it so they can't win, how about everyone has the right to express their emotions?
9. A Full-Face Of Make-Up
If you love wearing make-up, excellent! If you find it to be a total pain in the butt, excellent! You do you, and don't let anyone pressure you into looking a certain way.
10. The House, The Spouse, The Kids
This is such a personal decision, and we're all different. Nobody should be pressured into having a family just because it seems to be the norm. And if you do want a family? Happy baby-rearing to you!
11. Small Talk
We do it to fill that awkward silence, and yet it continues to be awkward. Can't we just bury ourselves in our phones like normal people?
12. Having To Give Gifts
I love giving gifts! I dislike feeling obligated to get someone a gift because I feel like I'm "supposed" to, or worse, I do it just because I'm "worried" they'll get me one and I'll show up empty-handed. Giving gifts is something you do because you want someone to have something special. It's not an obligation. Let's stop being weird about this.
13. Acting Like A "Young Lady"
I'll never forget the first time I was told young ladies are supposed to have long hair. To this day, I'm terrified of cutting my own. Wearing dresses. Refraining from expressing an opinion or disagreeing. Never letting a colorful word slip from you mouth. ALL things women are discouraged from doing at the risk of appearing less "ladylike".