“My toes aren't red.”
For as long as I can remember, my toes have always been painted some hue of red. Or when I am being adventurous, they are awash in beige.
During a recent trip to the salon, a sudden desire to throw caution to the wind engulfed me, such that when my nail person pointed to the new pastel colored nail bottles, I said “Sure, why not?”
I look at my feet now and see them toes in pastel blue. They look so different. Every time I glance down, I am jolted by the unexpected sight. Hah!
When I said that my toes have always been painted one color family, my nail person remarked “Toes don't always need to be red.”
Boom. That stuck.
I started to wonder about these unwritten rules I have in my head. There are those of course, that MUST be followed… like stopping when the light is red, or wearing seat belts, or having popcorn when watching a movie (okay, maybe not the last one, but I like following it).
But there are so many others that have accumulated over the years… words of guidance somehow passed on from one person to the next, and got embedded in the sub-conscious. “It's the norm”, the voice in the head says.
How many of these so-called norms do we have guiding our lives? The ones that “someone said” should be done, or “they said” that's how things are supposed to be?
Who's to say that's the case? What would happen if we did something different from what “people say”?
What would happen if we changed the order of things? If we, say, went and tried out real life first before going to college? Or if we had soup after the main dish? Or if we altogether skipped the crawling part and aim to go straight to walking?
“Worse comes to worst”, my nail person said, “you can always change it if you don't like it.”
We get so attached to and comfortable with our internal norms. Too often, we don't even question or get curious anymore about what might be if we did something different.
By continuing to do this, we lose the chance to be wonderfully surprised. To learn about ourselves and others. And to find joy in experiencing something new.
I love that when I look down, I am jolted by the unexpected sight of my blue toes. It serves me a good reminder to welcome what I might usually reject as ‘unlike me'.
Lou Blaser is the founder of Workxycodone, an online community promoting work-life balance through leading our lives. Visit her at www.workxycodone.com