The society we live in shapes what “normal” is through shared customs, advertising, the media, social media, consumer experiences, and communication with other people from the culture.

If we live in a society, we’re likely to follow right along with its version of “normal.” That’s okay, if the culture is healthy and, by following the shared habits and customs, we can be healthy, too.

But if the culture has issues, then do we really want to follow blindly along with what it’s teaching us? We will become what society is unless we take specific steps to go our own way.

So, how can we hold onto our own authentic self, despite what culture is doing, and consciously choose what we want in our lives?

Here are 27 tips for holding onto your own unique identity in a culture that sometimes seems like it doesn’t make sense:


1. Don’t passively watch TV or listen to the radio. Use services like Netflix or Pandora instead and actively choose your entertainment.

2. Find the thing that you love to do and figure out how to make a living from it.

3. Serve others less fortunate than you.

4. Realize your self-worth comes from inside and nothing you buy can make you better or happier.

5. Research which news outlet you can trust and look it up online once a week to check up on world events.

6. Read classics. Read extensively. Expand your worldview through books.

7. Talk about real things.

8. Cultivate relationships with people who let you be yourself.

9. Journal everyday about your day, your experiences, your thoughts, and the lessons learned.

10. Schedule social media time. Don’t let it suck you in.

11. Avoid shopping as a hobby. Make a list of the things you need and shop specifically for those things. Shop online to avoid temptations.

12. Keep in mind that bigger is not better. And more is not more.

13. Get a passport and travel far from home to understand the beauty of other cultures–and to appreciate your own.

14. Choose your clothing style and stick to it, despite what the yearly trends are. Better yet, wear a uniform.

15. Don’t buy a new one just because a new one exists.

16. Set your purpose in life and follow it, even if you’re doing it differently than everyone you know.

17. Reevaluate what you want and compare it to what you are doing now.

18. Practice spirituality. Meditate or pray everyday.

19. Focus inwardly, not outwardly. “Live in this world, not of this world.”

20. Don’t buy more house than you need, just because your friends did, or because the bank tells you that you can afford it.

21. Don’t get into debt just because credit cards exist.

22. Don’t believe everything you hear in the media.

23. Avoid advertising. Get rid of junk mail delivery and unsubscribe from consumer emails.

24. Don’t go to a big-name college just because it’s a big name college. Reconsider taking on huge amounts of college debt.

25. Be grateful for everything you have. Don’t take your luxuries, however small, for granted.

26. Don’t hate people just because they’re different from you and don’t listen to people (even politicians!) who tell you to hate.

27. Educate yourself, even if you attend school. Decide what you want to do in life and acquire the skills, character traits, and and knowledge necessary to go for it.