I’ve been thinking about rules lately. I like rules, as long as I know what they are. I like rules as long as people follow them. Unfortunately, it drives me crazy when people don’t follow them. I think most of my frustration in daily life is due to the way I feel about rules. My psychologist told me that most of the rules I live by are fairly arbitrary, and it’s a matter of thinking through them and realising this.
Rules are confusing. Who creates them? Does everyone know them? Does everyone know the same ones? Are all rules equal? Does everyone have to follow all the rules all the time?
For example: there is a food court I like to eat it in, but I don’t like the food there. I like to purchase takeout from somewhere else and bring it to the food court to eat. The food court is indoors and has plenty of tables and seats. The problem is, you’re not supposed to bring outside food there. It doesn’t really hurt anyone for me to do it; as I said, there are plenty of tables and seats so it’s not as if I am taking the spot of someone who buys food there. On the other hand, the cleaners still have to wipe down the table etc. The bottom line is that I eat outside there now and then but feel incredibly guilty every time I do it. Sometimes I will at least purchase my beverage there so that I am making some financial contribution. Do non-aspies worry about things like this to the extent that I do? Are there people out there who would never break any rules at all like this? In the past I would never have done this, but I am starting to see how needlessly restrictive my life is due to the need to follow rules. The problem is, not all rules are bad. Some rules are very important especially when it comes to operating successfully in society (such as “Don’t kill people”). The food court thing is an area I am conflicted by. The food court owners have every right to disallow outside food. It’s their business, so it’s their rules. If everyone who ate there brought in outside food the business would not survive. Why is it all right for me to break the rules? Why should I be exempt? What possible benefit is there for me to break the rules and put myself through all this conflict?
I justify it by telling myself that others do it too, and by surrounding my rule breaking with more rules. I only do it once every few weeks, if even that. As I said earlier, I try to purchase something at the food court such as a beverage or snack. I go at times of the day when there are many empty seats so I know I am not taking business away from a more lucrative customer. At the end of the day though, I know that what I’m doing is wrong and pointless and it makes me feel bad. I keep doing it to try to prove to myself and the world (that, let’s face it, isn’t watching) that I am not as inflexible as everyone keeps telling me. I, too, can bend the rules! I’m not scared!