The last day or so I’ve felt not so great. I’ve been super tired so I’ve spent more than my fair share of time on the couch. While there, I’ve had lots of time to ponder. One of the things that kept bubbling up is what we are “Allowed”. Allowed to be, allowed to think, allowed to feel…you know, things that are allowed….those societal expectations that force on all of us.
Thinking through my life, I can see my actions being driven by what I felt I was allowed to do. Now, before you ask, I am not saying that there were actual things that I wasn’t allowed to do by a specific person. It’s more what our brain tells us we are allowed to do. So I totally own that some of this is my perception ONLY. Unfortunately, perception is just as huge as a person standing there saying “you are NOT allowed”.
The hilarious thing is that back in the day, I thought I was the biggest, baddest thing around. I had a degree in a mostly male dominated industry. I had a great job that I loved. Looking back, though, I was just as affected by what I thought I was allowed to do as I am today.
So at 41, I am left wondering…when do I grow up to the point that I care less about what other people expect of me or allow?
We are surrounded by messages of what we should or should not be doing:
- there is no way you will qualify for that with your numbers.
- should you be wearing that?
- are you going to let your kid do that?
- can’t we just agree to disagree (ie can you just be quiet about your thoughts because I don’t want to listen to you)?
- posting about personal things on your blog looks unprofessional.
- not posting about personal things on your blog makes it un-interesting.
- don’t you feel like you are wasting your education?
- you shouldn’t let people’s opinions about religion, politics, etc alienate you from them.
- you shouldn’t let people teach your children things you don’t agree with.
- you should be thinner, you’re so unhealthy!
- you should eat a cheeseburger, you’re so unhealthy looking!
And it goes on and on and on.
So how do we come to a balance between societal norms/expectations (and realize that these are different depending on who you talk to/hang out with) and our own self inerest? I mean, we can’t all just say “screw it” and do what we want. Can we?
Hmmm….it’s an interesting thing to think about and one that I don’t have the answer to. What do you think? Do you have this struggle?