I’ve been the person who has gone home for the holidays and unwillingly listened to my extremely nosy relatives nag me about if I have a boyfriend, when I’m getting married, or when I’m having kids?
The assumptions are all there. And there’s little to no room to refute these social norms.
First of all, whose business is it when I’m having children? I still don’t consider myself to have completely transitioned into adulthood. How am I supposed to raise a child with a $600 paycheck every two weeks? I’m not. So if you’d like me to be an irresponsible parent, then by all means, please…continue.
Anyway, If I attempt to change the subject to something else it now becomes a discussion about my studies and what I plan to do with my life. As if I’ve got it all figured out down to the outfit I plan to wear to my first big kid job or the kind of 401 K plan I want to adopt.
I know what I’d like to do. And I know the steps I need to take to get there. But of course, if I don’t have a solid response they’ll think I’m just wasting my time. That I’m not capable. That I should have a practical job. Or butt in about exactly what I should do. This all coming from the people who never stepped foot on a college campus.
Secretly I laugh. Because I know who I am. I know my goals. And I know I’ll achieve them. Maybe not in the way that “they” deem right. But I’ll do it.
So this brings me to my Minor in Sociology that I’m finishing up this Fall. I’ve been fascinated by the way society interacts for some time now, and every sociology class I attend makes me understand a little more about why our “families” pressure us so much.
Because I’m not doing life the way they think I should, I am labeled “deviant”. It’s funny. Because to me and most of the sociological world, being deviant isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can be anything from dying your hair blue to walking in a gay pride parade. And what I believe to be perfectly okay, isn’t always the case for redneck conservative family members. And that’s completely okay. Because they don’t run my show. They don’t walk in my shoes. They sit comfortably in their worlds that they’ve created for their families. And that’s fine. More power to them. But just as I don’t try to control their lives, I guess I’d like a little of that in return.
I try to understand, as a sociology minor, why people related to us have the need to intervene in such a nosy way.
I took some time off of school for about a year. Because of that, I was treated differently by some of my relatives. Relatives that I don’t frequently talk to thought it was somehow their business to tell me where I should be living and what I should be doing. They stated their disappointment, as if that actually mattered to me. But I’m the kind of person who tries to keep the peace, for the most part. Especially about things that don’t really matter to me. And their opinions certainly do not. But of course, the second I returned to school…after feeling refreshed and motivated to finish my degree, they expressed their approval. And of course, I didn’t need it…but I found it strange.
When the lights go out, when the shit hits the fan, when you fall down a steep hill. The people that are still standing are the people you know you can count on. And I can tell you, the people who went out of their way to insert their social norms into my life, they weren’t left standing. So to me, their disapproval or approval is not validated. It doesn’t matter. It cannot matter. It’s just another opinion floating around.
I’m not deviant because I choose to do things my way. I’m certainly not a bad person for choosing to go to college over having a husband and children right now. I’m not going to hell for wanting to focus on myself. I’d rather buy a bottle of wine than a case of diapers. So I figured if my priorities are not about putting other people before myself right now. I have no business having a husband or children. My dog is enough responsibility for me right now.
Who knows, someday I might want to settle down and have children. If and when that day comes, I’m sure those nosy people will want to insert themselves back into my life. But just because we share a last name or blood. It doesn’t mean I want to share with them those milestones. You don’t have to invite everyone to your wedding. You don’t have to send announcements out that you had a kid. You don’t have to wish people Happy Birthday when you don’t mean it. You don’t have to surround yourself with people who only make you feel like crap. And you don’t have to live a lie just to keep the peace. Because lying to others does not actually provide your soul with peace. It hurts you more than it helps you.
I guess this post is directed to those of us who feel like we need to suppress or hide our beliefs just to make others comfortable. We don’t have to do anything that we don’t want to do. Being our true authentic selves is not illegal. And I think so many of us forget that. We make it harder on ourselves by trying to please those around us. We nod our head in agreement just to not start any conflict. You don’t have to agree with others. You can be an adult and get your message across without being nasty. I think we forget that, too.
It’s okay to be yourself. And I think we forget that the most.