A lot of misery can be traced to absurd social standards we swear by. We do horrendous things to fit in and not disturb the status quo, to not stand out in a bold way, because we’re taught that bold is bad. Bold is different. Different is unpredictable. Unpredictable is uncomfortable.
But f#@% that $h%7.
Here are 5 social pressures causing misery, and how to deal with them:
1. The pressure to catch up
Preeti is having kids, but you ain’t even got a fiancee yet.
Preeti finally became a doctor, but you haven’t even finished your bachelor’s.
Preeti bought a three-story house, but you still chillin’ in your mom’s basement.
You are a combination of unique influences, a product of particular factors. The trajectory of your life does NOT have to match Preeti’s, even if your grandma says so. You might be similar to Preeti, but you’re not Preeti. You’re you. It’s okay to be inspired by Preeti, but that should not translate into self-loathing and stress.
Pace your life in a way that’s comfortable for you, not for the sake of catching up to others (AKA Preeti). Life is a journey, not a race.
2. The pressure to bow to the status quo
You know what it’s like to feel those invisible hands pressing down on your shoulders, pushing you to submit to the status quo, the universal set of expectations? We think of it as an invisible force, but the pressure to be like everyone else is as palpable as the Hubba Bubba in my mouth right now.
It’s the guy who doesn’t offer you the job because your last name isn’t Johnson. It’s the girl who suddenly stopped hanging out with you when you wore a headscarf one day. It’s the law that invades your consensual intimate life, the relative who cries because you’re atheist, the neighbour who does a double-take because you’re wearing a cultural getup in a white suburban neighborhood (and it’s NOT even Halloween!).
The list can go on, and so will the pressure to be like everyone else.
Freaking dare to be who and what you want to be. If other people are uncomfortable, that’s THEIR problem, not yours. You’ll find your ground, your way to thrive if you find your inner courage. It sounds cheesy as F but seriously, you gotta understand that you don’t HAVE to be like everyone else. Stop choking your originality. Don’t do something just because that’s the way things are supposed to be. Find reasons. Find other people with integrity and gain inspiration from them.
3. The pressure to share your private life when you don’t want to (especially with random aunties and people you don’t personally know)
Whether it’s the auntie who wants to know if you’re pregnant yet or the neighbour whose wondering how many times you’ve been married or what your salary is, you don’t OWE the world an explanation or answer for anything about your personal life. No one deserves to know things about you as if it’s their right, even if they’ve shared things about themselves, and even if it’s information other people would willingly share.
Even if someone can get info about you easily from someone else, let them do that instead, because if you answer it yourself, you’re sending the message that it’s okay for them to ask those kinds of questions.
Learn how to politely dodge questions. Practice mentally telling yourself “I don’t have to share this”. Be firm, vague, and brief with people so they don’t dare to ask inappropriate or irrelevant questions in the first place.
Feel free to vent in the comments below.