“EVERYONE does it [this way].”

by teresalaynebennett

Whenever you hear this, do you think, Oh, really? I don’t wonder. Everyone, after all, is an awfully laaaaarrrge word.

I recently talked with young friends who just got married. They’d decided on a small, immediate-family-only wedding. And, oh my, the grief they had to take from other people telling them, “you have to do it this way”; “everyone does it this way.” Translation: 47 bridesmaids, full-dinner reception, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Are you under this sort of conformity-pressure right now? Isn’t it astonishing how many people in your life try to tell you to get in line, conform, do things the way everyone else does? And isn’t it clever how they try to hide it behind “for your own good” advice?

Here’s your
PayAttention Tip-for-the-Day.

When someone starts spouting Everyone Tripe, back up – waaay back – because that person has just proved they can’t be trusted AND that they’re manipulative.

There is precious little on the face of this planet that EVERYONE does – except breathe, eat, sleep, and defecate. But when friends tell you “everyone does it,” they’re usually not referring to these four bodily functions. They’re trying to get you to do something because THEY think that’s what you should do.

When they try pulling this trick on you, ask yourself these questions.

  • Do they know the details of my financial situation?
  • Do they know what pushes my stress level out of my comfort zone?
  • Do they know the short-term and long-term goals I’ve set for my life?
  • Do they truly know my moral compass and world-view?
  • Do they know about my health/medical/emotional state?

I could go on, but you get the picture. People who try to get you to do something using the suspect admonition “everyone does it” are usually clueless about your life’s details. Or they could be the kind of people who go through life telling other people what to do. Regardless into which category they fall, ignore them. If that feels awkward (and maybe even rude), then broaden your perspective on the topic, whatever it is. Find out for yourself if everyone does it.

Using this wedding scenario example, you could ask slightly older couples if they had it to do over, would they still opt for the fairytale-princess wedding for 300 guests (and spend the next five years paying for it)? Or you could ask even older generations about their weddings. If you can collar a couple who wed in the ’40s or early ’50s, you’ll learn that the wedding industry was in its infancy and just beginning its quest to manipulate unsuspecting brides and grooms.

Because it was still in its formative stages, it hadn’t yet sucked in the general population. Large, extravagant weddings were the exception rather than the norm. Couples concentrated on preparing themselves to have successful marriages and households rather than successful, over-the-top weddings and receptions. They were the Builder Generation and in large numbers, they built stable marriages without one single flower girl and no fairytale-princess dresses. Really. Everyone did weddings their way – and not so very long ago.

Back to my young friends’ case: they discussed their wedding plans and decided everyone would just have to soldier on without them while they had a wedding appropriate for their situation.

And that gives me such hope! When young people buck this kind of insidious, pervasive manipulation, they show they’re thinking and paying attention. And you know how thinking, pay-attention people warm my heart.

So buck up, Little Camper. And while you’re at it, buck whatever it is that someone else declares is the way EVERYONE does it. Rubbish: we’ve already ascertained there are only four activities that fit that bill.

Warm my heart some more. Share how you’ve bucked the everyone-does-it ploy.

red box with with George S. Patton's quote: "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."

A great WWII general’s take on “everyone”

© 2013 Teresa Layne Bennett