Before trying to understand people, one needs to understand themselves. One of the ways to understand yourself is doing what you want to be defined by, not things environment expects you to do. When feeling that life you’re living now isn’t what you enjoy and it doesn’t inspire you (to even get up in the morning), then it’s useful to distance from the current lifestyle. Especially if you have all the damn opportunities to do so.
I was in this situation until 3 years ago, when I was still living in a society where gender roles are predetermined, and to escape them you’re going to need balls of steel, so to speak. Obviously, at that time I didn’t. However, I did not ”escape” deliberately, with scandals or dish throwing, and burning all bridges, I just have moved for studies and realized that the world was out there (cliches, cliches).
It was (I’m sure it still is and will be for some time) a Happy Valley (for some, or a Hellhole for the others), where your gender predetermines how you should live. I’m a female and from small age was being prepared for the future role of a Good Mother and Wife. If you truly want that, then who am I to judge, but what if someone wants a future different from traditional gender roles? Here starts the stone throwing. In case you don’t want to live as this town wants you to live, as a sticking out nail you would be hammered down, or be forever labeled as a dear phycho of our good neighbourhood.
I was settling with my new life and seeing thousands of possibilities around, there were so many things I wanted to do, I wanted to try it all!
Only after a year of living away from this environment, it dawned upon me that I didn’t have to build myself into a shape, perfect to fit in the shell of a Obedient Daughter, Good Wife and Mother. Though, I didn’t know how to start.
YouTube personalities talk in their enlightened voices how cool it is to be yourself and do what you truly want, inspirational articles say all sorts of ”set yourself free, be brave, change it” things. Sounds like something achievable? Yes, it sounded easy, but felt like it needs a special person. I, however, felt I was sitting in front of an invisible wall I couldn’t penetrate, or get around it. I would always end up thinking that I’m not a person who could DO it and achieve some result, I’m for more earthly things. Like, getting a safe job without any responsibilities or challenges in a workplace, where you can be an ”office flower”, getting married, if I’m lucky enough he’d be rich, then immediately starting a family, and ”not doing anything stupid”. Does it sound familiar to anyone? Aah, ”not doing anything stupid”, this part was the one where I started to fall out of the ”perfect girl” image required for females back in my society (and got some minor backslash from our town’s Stepford Wives Committee.) I’m surprised it still exists nowadays, of course, this monster mutated, took a new form, and got some masking skills, but it’s still alive (and quite flourishing).
I have stopped myself from even trying new things a shocking number of times. It started with simple activities like jogging in the morning, or sketching. Then the stupidity escalated, I wouldn’t start obviously beneficial things for my studies or career, because it felt the lane I was in is safe and proven, and there was no need to leave the Happy Valley, or become one of ”those crazy women who only work, and work, and they’ll never get any husband this way you hear me, you don’t want that right? How are we gonna get our grandchildren? We want three, by the time you’re 25”. Etc etc.
After eventually leaving the Happy Valley I was experiencing the real world not only through internet, but in action. I started being the Doer. After constantly being viewed as good/bad wife and mother material, it was blindingly refreshing to be in the environment that doesn’t care about you in that way, and sometimes doesn’t care at all, and sometimes even encourages you to do stuff!
Now I feel I have become closer to being fully cured from trying to be a Perfect Likeable Girl. Which is not something bad, if YOU sincerely want that girl. But when someone tries to impose some role on another human, it seems as a form of playing God. How wrong is it when people judge what a person should be based on his race/gender/ethnicity/nationality/background? Try to make them fit into a costume that is obviously not their size? And what would make someone think they have a right to do that?
Some of us, inhabitants of the Earth, are blessed to have more possibilities to be what we choose to be, some of us don’t notice the tendency to judge others by outdated standards and images is still alive and think it’s natural, some don’t know how to accept that people aren’t what they want them to be, and find this tendency perfectly working and normal.
The more I tried new activities the more I was starting to understand that the shell of a ”Likeable Girl” is not mine. As I was climbing out of it more and more, I was discovering new sides of me every day I spent far from the toxic community.
Now I think it’s so foolish to deprive yourself of new experiences just because they ”are not for *insert option*”, and regret that for so many years I didn’t allow myself to experiment for the sole reason that if I do it, it wouldn’t fit my image.
Experiences we have make us more us, and now as I learned to do what I feel I need to do in order to become who I want to become, I feel more at peace and confident in my future. Confident, that at least I will be able to do what I find interesting, challenging, and exciting, and achieve my goals. It also makes me more honest towards others, because I’m showing them more of true me.
I’m still learning to understand and accept myself, and every day, action by action, fail by fail, achievement by achievement, new experiences make me more and more able to one day say that I know who I am and what I stand for.
And even though it’s a small thing, I am proud of finally understanding that we do not have to fit in to the stereotypes that were prepared for us upon birth. However, we have to be courageous enough to take the first step, and use the opportunities. After all, fortune favours them who go out and do it.