When I was a pre-pubescent teen, I took a stand. I renounced the colour pink from my life. Not just my wardrobe. My life. I loathed the colour pink the way I detest racism and terrorism. The way I hate listening to someone chew and the taste of duck pate. The way I feel ill about, and due to, motion-sickness and stomach cramps. It was the ultimate rebellion against anything Barbie stood for and the first stand I would take against society.
By twelve-ish, the build-up to my crusade had already been brewing for years. I had been gifted dozens of pink frilly dresses, dolls with pink outfits and pink accessories galore. The world had declared only two colours. Blue, was for boys. Pink, was for girls. I had no choice. This I could not accept. I hated pink on principle. First-world child problems, am I right?
I remember stapling the pages of a certain teen magazine I had subscribed to, that insisted on featuring a pink knit collection. I didn’t want to rip out the pages because that would ruin the magazine (mild ocd much?) but I didn’t want to be reminded of my expected allegiance either.
I felt like I was pre-labeled. Pigeon-holed. Boxed-in. I wasn’t given a choice. I felt unoriginal, un-individual, un-unique.
It doesn’t feel good to think that you don’t have a choice in your own life. That there are rules you have to follow. As women, there aren’t rules so much as expectations. Some feel it more than others, depending on your upbringing and culture.
We might be expected to get married, have kids, live in the suburbs and tend house. If you’re not married by a certain age, you must be unlovable. Or a bitch. If you don’t have kids, something must be wrong with you. If you’re focusing on your career, you must be selfish or materialistic.
But we’re not children anymore and this ain’t the 50’s. There are a lot more choices out there for all of us. The opportunities are endless. If you don’t make your own choices in your life, someone or something else will make them for you.
Full disclosure: I’m on the “wrong side” of 35 and I’m not married. Nor do I have kids. I’m not tending house and I’m not being kept by my boyfriend of 9 years. I don’t have a full-time job working for someone else. I’m working on myself and for myself and I’m happy. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m doing me.
I know a few women who are in the “ideal scenario” and they are regretful and miserable. They panicked as they started to get older and forced the husband and home and kids situation. They settled for what they had, not what they wanted. They were afraid of being alone. Being judged by others. Of not being loved or accepted. They once dreamed of bigger things, but the pressure of their families, their friends or their age, meant they surrendered.
There is no system for life. It’s not the same for everyone so don’t feel like you have to keep up with your friends or your neighbours. The big picture view is, we each get one life to live and it’s up to us to decide how we want to live it. #YOLO. We’re not here to control others or be controlled ourselves. Life’s too short to be anyone’s bitch.
No one has a right to tell you how to live. We each have our own decisions and choices and mistakes to make. Yeah, I said it, mistakes. We have a right to make our own mistakes and to take responsibility for them. How else can we learn from them? That’s growth. That’s being an adult. That’s life.
We follow our own paths and that’s the gift of life. If you’re living your life based on what someone else wants, then you’re not living your life. You’re living theirs. That’s a waste of a perfectly good life, waiting to be lived.
Don’t let emotional guilt get in the way of your dreams. Don’t feel pressured by others’ expectations. Any person who controls another doesn’t deserve your guilt or shame. And they sure as hell don’t deserve you.
Now I’ve got nothing against the “ideal scenario”. If you’re going to choose pink, choose it because you love it, you want it, you can’t live without it. Not because you’re expected to like it. That’s all I’m saying. Choose happiness above all else.
There’s a whole rainbow of colours out there to choose from and fish in the sea with a rainbow of colours, if that’s your angle.
You don’t have to settle, in any definition of the word. If you don’t like where you’re at, make some changes. It’s never too late. If you’re not even there yet, weigh up your options, listen to your gut or your heart. You have a choice in everything you do.
No matter what you choose, remember, the only boss of you, is you. So, do you. It’s time to (wo)man up and take the reins.
You got this… Taking Back Control
What rules or expectations are you following that are not your own? What are the outcomes of these rules? How do they affect your life? Have they held you back? Do they benefit you?
If they don’t benefit you, or they make you unhappy, what would better serve you instead?
If you were to look back 10 years from now, how would your life look if you stayed with these old expectations? Now imagine how your life would look with your new rules?
What changes can you make this week towards the new rules or challenges that you’ve set yourself?