As a result of someone else’s thinking and opinion, pretty firm ideas have been established regarding appropriate and proper ways to live, what is supposed to make us happy, what constitutes success, what constitutes a mature, adult life and what is ‘’normal.’’ These ideas permeate our consciousness over a very long period of time and they can be very strong forces. These forces can shape our life and if you are in full alignment with all of them, then you probably are not suffering any angst over how you are living your life and the choices you have made. Things are perfectly dandy for you.
But, for many of us, some aspects of our lives are probably not in line with what we really want but the pressure is strong and it led us to make certain decisions anyway. It leads us to conduct our daily lives in a way that really does not make us happy. At this point, one of two things occurs – we buck all of these arbitrary declarations and live our lives how we want or we continue to conform and blame societal pressure. I find that most of us choose the latter route. No doubt going the first route can be difficult and uncomfortable but it is always a choice and while it may be a very difficult or uncomfortable choice, that is not a valid reason for not making it.
There are a million examples of this but a few prominent ones come to mind. It seems these days, to be a good parent, which basically means mother, you must devote every waking second to the care, entertainment and enrichment of your child. All of their food must be organic and they need to be involved in 12 different activities, all nurturing a different aspect of their development. They are the center of the world and you should not care about anything else and if you do, you are selfish. I hear and see so many mothers complain about this current ideal, this ridiculous ‘’Supermom’’ image. So many perfectly good parents driving themselves crazy trying to live up to this near impossible ideal, suffering terrible guilt. I agree wholeheartedly that it is too much, but if you are not buying into all of this and you truly do not believe it necessary to raise a happy, healthy child, you can choose not to do all of these things. If the only thing driving you to this insane level of parenting is fear of judgment or criticism, you cannot blame anyone else but yourself. There are plenty of parents who have firmly said no to all of this and you can too. Yeah, other mothers are most definitely going to talk about you and judge you; we will never avoid the scrutiny of others. But if it is any consolation, their nasty words are just a way to soothe that part of them that is jealous they do not have the courage to make the same decision. This applies in all types of situations.
Our culture has a very firmly entrenched idea of success and it centers on having certain types of jobs, acquiring certain material goods and having a lot of money. This leads people into jobs they hate so that they can achieve a certain image and be viewed a certain way. It also leads people to emulate this life even when they cannot afford it. Again, I get the societal pressure can be strong, but you have to own that you are making the choices you are making because you feel pressure and you worry about what other people are thinking about you. No one forced you into getting a job you hate, marrying someone you really do not love, a huge mortgage when you would have been just as happy to rent or racking up credit card debt so that you appear to have more money than you actually do.
We spend so much time blaming societal expectations for the choices we make, how we live our life and it is just plain silly. We are only human and it is natural to feel doubt or insecurity, or lack confidence in certain areas of our life; we all suffer from that. This naturally makes it challenging to do our own thing and we can be very sensitive to the judgment and criticism of others. Going left when everyone else is going right is certainly difficult at times but we always have choices. People are always going to talk about other people, they will always have their opinions and fixed ideas. We cannot change that and we must accept that we may be the target of all the gossip and criticism at times. No one can make us do anything. Everything we are doing now is by choice. We cannot blame anyone else but ourselves for those choices. If you are used to blaming outside circumstances for your life, this type of statement probably angers you, but it should not. Isn’t it empowering to believe that you can take full responsibility for your life and that you are not obligated to live based on someone else’s expectations?