Do you sometimes feel like your life or others’ lives are being lived according to family, or society, or cultural expectations? I have been having conversations with friends and family and we think it may also be something bigger than that – including morals, values? When speaking to my friend about it, we agreed that it is hard to articulate but it IS something. Maybe the life we are living happens without us realising, or that we’ve been in denial for so long that we’ve forgotten/ become complacent or even apathetic so we have just come to accept it. However, other times there could be something significant that occurs in your life which makes you realise that you are not living your life the way you want it to be – providing you with an ‘awakening’ of sorts. Sometimes it could be your own children or the children/ other people in your life that may make you take stock and rethink your previous beliefs or change your perspective. It could mean that you may only need to make small tweaks, or it could mean implementing major changes that you have been delaying. At the end of the day though, you realise that there is no one to blame but yourself for the way your life has or hasn’t eventuated.
I feel that our lives are our stories to tell – we should be the narrator, the script writer, the editor, the main character who leads and molds our story. When we give that power over to someone else or other people, that’s when our lives can become incongruous to our own expectations. We need to hold the pen to write our own story and not give that power over to anyone else. I have had conversations with relatives, friends and colleagues about what other people – even though well meaning – tend to reinforce theirs, society or cultural expectations onto an individual situation without full comprehension or being mindful of facts or the person’s feelings. One case in point is how you live your life – what you do or don’t do really is not anyone else’s business.
There is nothing wrong with concern for someone you care about and yes, it is hard not to place your expectations on someone else’s situation. However, what you think about their situation is none of their business and what other people think of yours should also not concern you. It’s something that is a constant struggle and even though family and good friends may mean well, sometimes people need to be more mindful of what they say or how they say it. We may need to remember that everyone doesn’t need to conform – to family, society or cultural expectations.
I say this to my daughter and just recently in conversation with a friend – how boring would life be if we all did the same things, liked the same things and all looked the same? It’s refreshing to have differences and embrace those differences – that is why each and everyone of us is unique. While growing up, we are told to be ourselves, to be individual and unique but yet I feel that there is a double standard in society – there is a message that you need to conform and do specific things to be successful in life eg. go to a good school, get good grades, obtain a higher education and get a good job, work up the corporate ladder, etc. Is that really the only definition of success? Success is different to everyone and what it means to one person is very different to what it may mean to someone else.
Of late, I’ve had conversations with other women who may or may not have children, may be single or with a partner but not married, and they find it quite offensive when someone (usually a relative or good friend) asks why they haven’t got married yet or why they are still single? Like it is a bad thing! Or, in the case regarding children, why they haven’t had children yet or point out the fact that they aren’t getting any younger, so they shouldn’t delay! How do we really know what others may be going through or feel? What if they have been trying for months or years to fall pregnant and have been unsuccessful? What if they had fallen pregnant but didn’t carry to term? What if they have made the decision not to have children? That alone is their decision and why should that impact anyone else? It’s their life, their choice and their reality – their story, they are holding the pen. Whatever people decide to do with their life, who are we to question that or express it is not a worthwhile life – without being married or having children? Or anything else? Observing the lack of empathy shows that it is hurting people – we don’t really know what other people are struggling with so it’s always best to be kind, mind your own business and err on the side of caution.
In conversation with my friend, I spoke about how it has taken me over 40 years to accept who I am and to be happy with who I am. I hope that this isn’t the reality for others, and I realise that there were many things that contributed to my situation but I digress…. the message I hope to convey is that we need to love ourselves more – if we have acceptance and gratitude for ourselves then it will gravitate outward. The universe will reciprocate so that love, happiness and gratitude will flow back to you – coming back full circle. Self-love is important, how can we love others completely if we do not love ourselves?
Sometimes we need to be reminded that we’ve been given the gift of life, that it should not be taken for granted – we only have one chance at life, so it’s important to find happiness intrinsically and make peace with what isn’t perfect. Life isn’t meant to be perfect, I read a meme that said ‘Perfection is an illusion’ which I’ve shared below. My interpretation of that is if you are always seeking perfection, you will never be happy because nothing in life is perfect. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side – and if it is, it may be fake! The sooner you accept that life is full of imperfections, then the happier you can be. So, hold the pen, write your story, own it and Laugh, love live!