“No one would ever think that you are a rule follower.”

That’s what my new friend said to me.

We were out for coffee, getting to know each other. I’m not even sure how the topic came up. I had just told her that, deep down, I was a rule follower. “From just meeting you, from the outside, no one would ever know,” she answered.

I loved that.

I am, or at least can be, such a rule follower. Wondering what the “right” thing to do is, or the “right” way to be. Or the “right” way to address the problem or handle the challenge. “Give me the rule book, the step-by-step process, the yeses and no’s along the way, and I’ll nail it,” I used to say to my therapist. “Just tell me what I’m supposed to do, and I’ll do it.”

I hated when there weren’t specific answers. I hated when there weren’t right things I could do to make it all go away.

And, at the same time, having grown up such a rule follower, with such strict rules, a huge part of me loves to say *&%$# it to the rules. I love to be any form of alternative culture and practice that I can be. I probably do it in very “normal” ways, but I work very hard to not be normal. To not always fit in. To be different from the mainstream. It’s as if I’m still wearing my “Why Be Normal?” button.

I would wear it if I could find one.

As much as I want everyone to like me, I love questioning and challenging and pushing against the norm. I love standing out – being a bit funky and irreverent and different. I love stopping myself from following the rules and encouraging myself to try a less beaten path.

Maybe I’m making up for the stringent rules that were imposed on me when I was young. And the stringent rules I imposed on myself. Maybe I’m embracing the anti-establishment nature I inherited from my father. Maybe it’s more fun to not follow all the rules.

I just know that “No one would ever guess that you are a rule follower” was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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