I’ve been quite perturbed this past week. I watched a video narrated by Cynthia Nixon, or rather Miranda Hobbes if you are a Sex and the City fan like me (She’s dynamite right?) In this she speaks about the problem woman face constantly. Not being good enough or being told by voices all around that our decisions and behaviour are just not on par or acceptable. Show skin, but not too much. When are you having children? How can you not want children? You shouldn’t chase relationships, find yourself first! Why are you single? You are a slut. You are a prude, and the list goes on. It’s hella frustrating.
When will our decisions be celebrated or accepted merely for the fact that they are our decisions? We live in a time in which we are encouraged to practice self-care and love ourselves, but constantly berated for doing just that. Is loving yourself not synonymous with making decisions that are good and healthy for you? This IGTV video was about women, and rightly so, but I feel it also stretches further – to humanity in general. It left me wondering, why are we so obsessed with sharing our opinions about others’ life choices?
I decided to quit my job last year. Not because I wanted to pursue my passion or something grand like that. I quit my job without any plan, because I had reached a point where I just could no longer be there. It was destroying me mentally and was very bad for my already diagnosed depression. That was the reason, but when people asked and I said, “I just don’t want to be here anymore”, it wasn’t acceptable. It was met with responses like, “don’t you want to sleep on it, or retract your resignation, because this is an impulse decision”. I was told I had to consult more people and that the decision was bad, but when I changed my answer to “I want to travel and live while I am young,” everything was okay. “You should go! I am so happy for you”.
I didn’t lie completely. Yes, I wanted to travel. Yes, I wanted to see more of the world and pursue my passions, but the reason I quit was that I couldn’t be there anymore. Why was it so difficult for people to accept? The biggest frustration, however, was that people didn’t want to listen or bother to ask what was going on. They just needed to express their opinion about my decisions and inadvertently tell me how wrong my experience and decision was. Not to mention that previously I was told numerous times not to squander my youth at one job… make up your minds people!
I regret giving in and “lying” just to get them off my back, but at the time it was easiest. We’ve all done it, twisted the truth just to not have to deal with the judgement or questions Whether it was not telling your mum about your new relationship because you knew she would have unsolicited advice or opinions, or not telling your friends that you were trying a new dating app, because you know they’d have an opinion about It. We do this because we want to avoid the hurt, self-doubt and in some cases self-hate that accompanies these precious “gifts” from those around us. But this shouldn’t be the solution to the problem. To lie about something that is integral to our humanity is not the answer.
I was a prude, an innocent, obedient, and somewhat overzealous Christian girl (this might be quite an unbelievable surprise if you’ve read my previous musings, but it’s true). As I grew older and especially these last four years on my journey to love myself, I became more outspoken and am not innocent anymore, at all! I have started to make decisions based on what is best for me and what really sets my soul on fire. I am listening to my needs and heart and not trying to please everyone around me while forgetting myself, but this was often met with disdain. People continued to try to help me be the person I was. My decisions were questioned and ascribed to rebelliousness. Only the few who bothered to know me and follow me on the journey understood. The few who were willing to place their ideals and lifestyle aside and look at mine. I lost many friends and faced many uncomfortable conversations, it really sucked. Many people in my life couldn’t be supportive of my decisions because unfortunately, and quite naturally, what I wanted and needed didn’t fit into their narrative.
I have been wrong too. I have felt the intense need to express my opinions about other’s decisions. A friend said she didn’t want kids and I couldn’t understand. How could she make that decision? I was so wrong. Another friend wanted to pursue a relationship I didn’t understand and instead of being supportive I failed her. It happens so often, because we aren’t all on the same path and are in different phases of life. More importantly we are completely different people! We have different desires, dreams, and expectations. So, we cannot always understand where others are coming from and then we do what humans so love to do, and force understanding into the situation. We look at others through our tiny lenses to make sense of it.
From this originates the judgement, misinterpretation, and lack of support. The intention is not necessarily to hurt or pass judgement. I believe it rarely is. But because of our limited understanding and fear of what we don’t understand, it happens. Others’ decisions and actions won’t always fit into our own narrative (I know I should stop using this word, but it fits, okay?) and that is okay. We don’t have to be in agreement with everyone, that isn’t what I’m saying. I’m saying that when this happens, when our paths lead away from one another, rather than trying to force them back together and project our views, why don’t we just love them and leave them on their journey?
We hurt others without the intention to do so, and social media has made it so easy. It has made it too easy to force our ideas and understanding onto another by refusing a like or making a questionable comment. We are so involved in other’s lives that we forget our place and responsibility as humans.
Our responsibility is to support the souls around us. To build others up to become the truest and best versions of themselves and not what we think that is. If she wants to show skin, let her. If he doesn’t want children, support that. If she doesn’t drink or party, celebrate her choice. If I make the decision to quit my job, support me and keep your eyes open to see all the amazing things I’ll do. Life is difficult enough, we don’t need to make others feel as if they are not good enough or enough.
Let’s change the culture so that future generations won’t have to face the same judgement and heartache.