The Rules Don’t Apply To Me

Kristen Carbone
3 min readApr 9, 2020

Rules are for other people, not for me.

Of course, I love some rules (like always saying “thank you”). Some rules I follow because I’m part of a mostly civilized society (although weirdly I can’t think of an example right now). And there are some rules I wish more people would follow, like the rules of the road (do you hear me, Rhode Islanders?).

My general rule, though, is to respectfully subvert norms. Convention simply never feels right. I can’t help thinking there must be a better way to do almost everything. Admittedly, this way of thinking often results in a meandering and slow journey rather than a direct path. But I learn so much, I rarely get in trouble, and it is almost always exponentially more fun.

For instance, I prefer living communally to living in a nuclear unit. The diversity in perspective, the interesting dinner conversations, the division of household tasks, and the shared laughter — there is so much laughter — are beyond measure. I love this lifestyle not just because I know it’s good for me, but because it’s been such a gift for my children. They’re engaging conversationalists and have developed a much bigger support network of adults than just me and their dad. But this lifestyle has raised some eyebrows. Once, when my kids were in preschool, two of the other moms invited me out for drinks to ask a deluge of personal questions. When you live differently, people are curious.

Some rule breaking is far less scandalous.

Recipes are the rules that feel closest to gentle suggestions. And while this makes me a terrible baker, I’ve only ever had one complaint about my improvisational cooking. I blame the capers.

The vegetable seed-packet instructions say to plant their contents in early May, but the seedlings are already thriving, their green shoots reaching up towards the subtle northern light pouring through my bedroom windows. (You keep your seedlings on your dresser, too, right?)

We eat breakfast for dinner.

My daughter and I regularly “powerclash,” pairing a number of non-matching patterns in one outfit (this is only scandalous for my grandmother.).

I have many cherished, unconventional friendships that span decades.

Sometimes I let the kids skip school so we can sleep in, make pancakes and go bowling.

I never used to wear a seatbelt or bike helmet, although I do now because I can imagine dying from a senseless, preventable accident and fear the wrath of my mother (whom I hope to meet in the afterlife) scolding me for being so stupid.

While I doubt the existence of God in the Catholic sense as much as I doubt there is a tooth fairy, I do love sitting in churches, although for me their spirituality resides solely in their art and architecture, which are triumphant monuments to human endeavor. But when I want to feel the energy of being, I go to the ocean, lay in the grass, or stare at the clouds. Outside is my true temple.

Most notably, I don’t really believe in Right and Wrong. If I’ve learned anything on my meandering journey, it’s that our life choices are about perspective. We can’t judge anything clearly because the lens of our experience is the inevitable filter.

Perhaps all of this is in reaction to growing up in a nuclear household where my parents had rigid, set ideas about rules, Right or Wrong and everything else. But I think I’m just interested in seeing what I’ll find out when I explore a life where the only rules I follow are about gratitude and right-of-way at a four-way stop.

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Kristen Carbone

Just trying to understand the tiny space I occupy in the cosmos without becoming too distracted by the laundry.