If you keep all the little rules…

You can break all the big ones.

In George Orwell’s book 1984, Julia, the woman with whom Winston falls in love and begins his affair, is high-ranking in the Party. She has complete freedom to work against the Party precisely because everyone in the Party (and initially even Winston) believed she was the poster child for all the Party’s convictions.

In truth, she was completely committed to bringing the Party down. Her governing ethic, “If you keep all the little rules, you can break all the big ones,” allows her to move freely to accomplish her own agenda: taking down Big Brother.

The genius of this statement is that there are something things the (smart) lazy student must do, so that s/he can do what is really of interest.

Examples of Little Rules, or Must Do

  • Attend class daily
  • Take notes in class
  • Organize your binder(s) for class (will put up a post on this one)
  • Plan ahead for quizzes, exams, term papers and group projects (will also post for this)
  • Keep your head clear and protect your brain (cut out alcohol, drugs, nicotine, and excessive sugar)
  • Turn in homework assignments on time (I’ve struggled with this one most of my life)
  • Never have your phone out in class or while in meetings (you may be doing something legitimate, but for all anyone knows you are playing solitaire)
  • Be respectful to teachers, professors, administrators, bosses (you will need their help)
  • Keep yourself clean and presentable (i.e. shower, brush and floss your teeth, comb your hair, tuck in your shirt and pull up your pants)

Examples of Big Ones, or Can Do

  • Pursue multiple degrees simultaneously
  • Participate in speech & debate, drama club, sports
  • Work for extra cash to offset school expenses
  • Have time available to apply for scholarships and internships
  • Express your creative self (art, writing, music)
  • Start a side business, develop an app, solve a world problem
  • Go play outside (hike, run, bike)
  • Spend time with your loved ones and pets (this could be one and the same)

The Little Rules are actually daily habits. You should not have to think about doing them. Little Rules are just ingrained in your daily living.

Breaking the Big Ones, for me, has always been about pursuing that which is interesting and not getting bogged down on a pre-determined paths or in arbitrarily (or externally) set expectations.

… I call it Breaking the Big Ones.


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