In my last blog “When I Grow Up I Want To Be…” I talked about how we are expected to choose our paths at an early age and how we let this choice define the rest of our adult lives. It got me thinking (or actually one of the comments I received in response to that blog did), about how we are all expected to do and be certain things in this life and how difficult it is to manage these expectations.
Those of us of a certain age grew up in a vastly different era.
- We accepted things we wouldn’t dream of putting up with today.
- We felt and took responsibility for things that happened to us.
This sounds noble, but it is anything but. Hell, half of my childhood TV heroes are now in prison…way too late because victims blamed themselves and/or were too embarrassed, or frightened, to come forward.
We were tricked by societal lies that laid out their expectations of us. How we should look, what we should wear, how we should act, what our futures should look like and what the consequences were of getting any of this ‘wrong’. It was all mapped out for us back then.
Of course, this applied to everyone, regardless of colour, gender or sexuality, but I’m female so I’ll stick to what I know.
As a young woman we didn’t just have society applying the pressure. We also had familial pressure to marry, have children, keep home, learn to cook, sew, and still have a career. We expected to have to work twice as hard to get where we wanted to go. Not just to get that promotion but also to pull all the other parts of our lives together and keep the ship sailing smoothly.
I was one of the lucky ones, as my parents were happily divorced. That may not sound like a good thing, but in terms of role models they both taught me very separate, but equally valuable lessons.
My mother taught me her fierce independence, how to use power tools and love for the natural world.
My father taught me the importance of education and travel and never failed to tell me how proud he was of me, even in the darkest of moments.
One thing that stood out though is how they both wanted me to forge my own path.
I consider this a privilege.
Even though we didn’t have a washing machine until I was 12 years old. A colour tv a year later. That our toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the shower was in a corner of the kitchen. I was still privileged.
I grew up in a beautiful part of the world and had a childhood that many would envy, despite the free-school meals, homemade clothes and my mother cutting my hair (actually I think the hair may have scarred me for life) 😊
Today women have a voice, it is growing in its sincerity and its value, however there are pressures today that are so much more intense.
The social media deception is the greatest hurdle to overcome these days. It is shocking!
I have spent most of my life worrying about what people think of me, how people make assumptions about who I am. This has taken years to overcome (and I’m still learning), I am not sure how I would have coped having all my life out on the internet when I was still unsure who I was or who I wanted to be.
How many of us have ‘friends’ that we have never met?
How many of those friends lead the ‘perfect’ life?
How many look like they take a professional photographer on their travels with them?
How many of us wish we could have their life?
It is easy to be left feeling that we are not good enough, even though what we are envious of, may not even be truthfully what we desire. I think I fall into this category.
I recently did one of those fun quizzes on Facebook it was something like “What does your favourite biscuit say about you?” Of course, the answer should be that I eat way too many biscuits as picking my favourite was not an easy task, but I plumped for the good old custard cream!
The result? ‘Secretly desires a lavish lifestyle but wouldn’t know what to do with it’. I think that about sums it up.
It is self-destruction, allowing others to influence how we feel about our own lives, without stopping to find out what is our own truth.
There is no doubt we need to learn to manage the expectations of others on our lives. Understand they are theirs, not ours. We don’t have to do anything we don’t want. Obviously, there are consequences to every decision we make but those decisions should be ours and ours alone, not to please someone else or to conform to societal norms.
Learn from successful people rather than resenting them.
Realise that there are no perfect families, everyone has a struggle, or something they don’t want us to see behind closed doors.
Do not let where we come from, the mistakes we have made, the good or bad things that have happened to us in the past, define our futures.
In a week where the Vice President Elect is a woman and a woman of colour, we should take note!
This should not be such a big deal, but it is a big deal. It is a big deal because society has placed her into two imaginary, yet very prominent boxes – The Non-White box and the Non-Male box.
She has transcended both of those because her whole life’s work has been fighting for freedom for everyone regardless of gender, income, or race. She is now in a position to influence this more than most, but she has a whole misogynistic mess to clean up first.
Sexism and racism are engrained in politics and industry throughout the globe, but even more so over the last four years in the US, so this should, quite rightly, be celebrated by women everywhere.
We should all watch now to see how #womensupportingwomen really works.