I was speaking with a group of women yesterday and it is troubling how deeply ingrained the boxes we have let ourselves live in, shape our lives in many domains, whether it be in family, education, work, friendship, parenting and especially marriage.
Let me start by saying that yes, it’s understood that many of these boxes, or expectations, have been handed down to us by our own family, schools, media, etc., and that in some ways, expectations are part of living in a society, I guess. My main realization is: why are the expectations need to be fine-tuned beyond the main social laws of : homicide, theft, forgery, speeding excessively, exposure of genitals and misrepresentation, to name few? Beyond the main laws, and I’m sure many could argue with me about the first 3, the fine-tuning of these laws align themselves along a culture’s taste and “idea of what is proper”, rather than allow for inclusion. I am not necessarily talking about a 37-year-old male wearing a polka-dot bra to Target, (although, why not, that would make my day) I am referring to expectations our society has on what a successful adult life looks like: marriage, family, work.
Think of how many movies portray this adult- pursuit “happiness” trophy. The race to a perfect career, with the perfect partner, the perfect kids all living in the perfect home, of course. Let me tell you, the ones who ”appear” to have it all, many times, don’t know they have it. Oftentimes, they are also busy looking at the other neighbor’s greener grass or dealing with unseen hardships.
This illusion of happiness is so ingrained that it has become toxic to many.
Why is this not the perfect recipe for happiness? Easy. An illusion is just an illusion, it is stagnant and does not represent life, which, in return, is forever evolving. As human beings, we grow; our taste, views, needs, and even sometimes our dreams even change over time. That is normal and to be expected. Being a happy adult does not have to fit in those expectation boxes.
You can be living with roommates creating reusable shopping bags or working full-time serving in a hospital restaurant and be completely life-fulfilled for the time being. That is success at that moment for you.
My main point is: I hope we learn to withhold judgement of others who don’t aspire to “our” goals and expectation. I also hope that if you identify any boxes that hold you back from freedom of being yourself, that you break them down and take steps closer to your success story.