Last week I called the cable company to ask how much it would cost to get Internet installed in my apartment. (Until now I’ve managed to use my apartment complex’s access.) The guy on the other end of the phone tried to give me a price for both Internet and cable.
“Oh, I don’t need cable,” I said. “Just Internet.”
The guy paused. “Well, how do you watch TV?” he asked.
“I don’t watch TV,” I said, hoping to quickly schedule my appointment so I could move onto the rest of my to-do list. “That’s why I only want Internet.”
Another pause. “What do you mean you don’t watch TV?” the salesman pressed.
“I mean I don’t watch TV,” I said, growing annoyed. “I just want Internet.”
But my message apparently was not clear enough. “You don’t watch any TV?”
I’ll save you the rest of the conversation, because it’s mostly me getting annoyed, and him sounding increasingly hard-headed. The truth is, I do watch some television. I watch about one hour a week, usually on Fridays after work when I want to veg out. But I watch that one hour on my laptop, so it doesn’t make sense to pay for cable.
Yet going without cable is about more than saving money. The truth is, I think TV is a waste of time. That doesn’t mean I’m never tempted to watch it. When the new Bachelor started a month ago, I knew I would’ve watched the show if I’d had cable. But that’s exactly why I don’t. Because I don’t want to spend my weeknights watching television. I want to spend them writing or blogging or reading or socializing.
Now, I’m by no means saying that I’m above watching television. Believe me, I have my own ways of wasting time, and most of them involve the Internets. But my point here is that just because everyone else does something, doesn’t mean you have to do it, too. Just because most Americans waste hours each night sitting in front of the tube doesn’t mean I should. Maybe you think reading blogs is a waste of time. Or that going out to dinner is a waste of money. Just because everyone else thinks those activities are normal does not mean you have to partake.
Because here’s the secret: While everyone else is sitting in front of the television, you’re writing your book. While everyone else is eating out at restaurants, you’re saving for your career break. While everyone else is getting sucked into one blog after another, you’re planning your next big project. Whatever your dream is, you can get that much closer to accomplishing it while everyone else is busy wasting time.
It’s not easy to deviate from what society tells us is “normal.” It’s not fun to be judged by the cable guy or the restaurant-goers or whoever else notices that you’re different.
But you know what? If you can find the courage and persistence to deviate, you’ll have a book to show for it.
Photo credit: Flickr’s pasotraspaso