The honking of cars at unassuming pedestrians filled the crisp distant air and the bench I’ve been perched on for the past hour is familiar stomping grounds; it’s a personal land mark I seek out in times of mental refuge. “The thing that people once celebrated about me is now the source of their frequent eye glazes” I thought nonchalantly. I’m hinting to my not so secretive “she’s different” label that has been bestowed upon me over the years. It’s a bewildering term as I genuinely know I’ve lived (and continue to live) an authentic life; one in which I do not cognitively try to sway in or out of a societal category. The term ‘different’ that I am alluding to is the moving away from the conventional views of how one ‘grows up’ and the rites of passage that accompanies this ritual.
We all know the conventional story – obtain a education (if it’s within societal reach), find a job, find a mate, marry said mate, buy a house, work hard for job promotions, have children, save for retirement and there you have it: this is your life!! Or is it? Somewhere between obtaining an education, dating and working in the ‘grown up world’, I asked myself one day, “Is this what life is meant to be?” And that specific question and thought process led to MANY more questions…For example, ”If I get married, why do I need a house?”; “I want to be a mother one day but is getting married a necessity in furthering a loving, committed relationship?”; “Who am I doing all of these things for, myself?”; “Why should society dictate my relationships?”; “Why must I give up my power in order to fit in?”; “Do I even want to fit in?”…etc. The questions were nonstop; I wondered what it would be like sitting across from great minds such as Plato, Socrates and Aristotle discussing these topics. I pondered on what they would say, would they tell me to adhere to the ebb and flow while sorting through my own life? Or would they be proud at questioning the obvious?
As a 32 year old female, I am acutely aware that I am currently living within a paternalistic society and as such my age, gender, ethnicity and nationality has led to a preordained life. In essence, my life has been mapped out for me and following through with the given blueprint would be my ‘ideal’ societal role as others would have it. However, the free spirit that I am felt uncomfortable within such tight societal constraints. I am privileged to live within a time in which women have rights, can vote, can work at high ranking positions in both the private and public job sector. Why must I dream the same dream as the masses? As these thoughts flowed through my mind, a middle aged mother with a child walked by, I smiled as I usually do – I love children. “I want that one day too” I heard my inner voice echo. It’s a special thought, one of future comings I’m certain but in time to come. Age; while once an indicator of biological constraints for a woman is no longer the only viable option of nurturing a child, thankfully.
Why am I telling you all of this? As I’ve aged, I’ve witnessed friends, co workers and family members carrying on with life and around my 24th birthday, a friend (at the time) mentioned, “I wasn’t taking life seriously”. I curiously asked her to elaborate on what she meant by “seriously” because at the time I had obtained a University degree; had intentions of pursuing further post-graduate education and entered the work force. She was essentially comparing our lives, whilst I was not. This ‘friend’ was newly engaged and the ring she was given possessed a rather magical, mystical trait, it warped her personality so much so she viewed me as, ‘different’ since our views were not aligned. I am baffled at the power of a diamond ring; it does not ward off individuals from having affairs, falling out of love or obtaining a never-ending fairy tale. It’s a matter of choice. How someone chooses to view, love, appreciate, value, respect is not represented whole heartedly by a gem that took millions of years to form on the Earth’s crust. In saying that, I do respect and value marriage however it is not the cornerstone of life nor is it the reason to harass another person in order to feel better about oneself. I can assure you an intelligent person can easily identify that nonsensical thought process and will mentally make a note to stay clear of that type of low level thinking.
The box I am referring to is the one in which family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, pumpkin vine family (as we say in Trinidad lol) will question your every move in life. Why don’t you have children? Could it be that I am selective of whom I intertwine my double helix with? Truly, the highest level of commitment, in my opinion is that of procreation with another human being. Why did you switch careers? Are you going through a mid-life crisis? Perhaps, I wanted to gain more skills in my life, I am an intellect thus; I wanted to further my knowledge by gaining physical life-saving skills. Why do I spend so much time doing Youtube etc? I like helping women, I want them to know the truth about products and one day I want to be a business owner. I’m not as random as one may think and while I love red lipstick and makeup I also know its history, do you? It’s not nice to judge, is it?
“Are there others being placed in such boxes as well?” I wondered. The sun is setting and it’s time to return to the ‘real world’. “Next time I’ll write about the box I’m in” I thought with a sigh. As an individual who has spent time helping others on various social media platforms it means a lot to me that people listen to my voice and when I was younger I wished someone told me it was OKAY to pursue my dreams and not be consumed or distracted by tradition or the expectation of others. To the reader, particularly the younger audience, focus on your goals, write them down, look at them every day and achieve them. The truth is, no one will love your dreams or goals more than you – so continue on your path. Look around, be acutely aware of your environment but do not allow it to consume you. Your aspirations are not meant to make sense to everyone, do not expect support or encouragement either – your goals may be larger than those around you hence they will not understand. If you do not want to have a preordained life, you do NOT have to – it’s okay to want the same or different things in a timely manner. As the great philosophers have stated countless times, we are each born with free will but it is a matter of how much one CHOOSES to retain this ‘will’ that will undoubtedly influence the rest of one’s life.