I Did it My Way
It’s a new year and like many, I consider new year’s resolutions. I say consider because I’m not religious about it. It doesn’t need to be a new year to set goals or make a decision and act upon it. You can make the commitment anytime. The reason most of us use the new year is for ease and reference to the calendar year. So you can look back and say, “In 2021, I did this.”
Whether you make resolutions or not, we all need growth and change; to provide a sense of accomplishment and meaning to our lives.
But if the things you’re looking to achieve are based on other people’s expectations of you, be it family, friends or society, my question to you is, whose rules are you living by?
A Normal Life
Have you ever heard someone say, “I live a normal life”?
What is normal?
Depending on your audience, many variables could be shared and assumed.
But a person’s definition of “normal” is based purely on their experience of life in comparison to the society they belong to, whether it be a big city or small country town, America to Asia and everywhere in between.
Here are some considerations from two criteria which differ from person to person, and you can decide what’s normal:
- Your upbringing - whether you come from a nuclear family, single parent or otherwise. Brothers, sisters or only child. Your parents' jobs - nine to five, shift workers, one parent stayed home or both worked. Do you take your shoes off inside the house, say a prayer before every meal? Who cooks and what are your typical meals? Maybe someone always watches the evening news or there’s a favourite show you share. No TV on school nights. Do you even own a television? No two households will ever be exactly the same.
- Your sex - your experience of life will be very different from someone of the opposite sex. Biological differences provide many areas unfamiliar to the other gender. I have only had the pleasure of clasping or unclasping a bra on someone else and have no idea what makeup would suit my skin tone. Then there’s your interaction and experiences with the opposite sex. There are some real creepazoid men out there, and with the ladies...you’re all definitely from Venus, albeit different parts. 😉
Even between individuals of the same sex, there are differences - sexual preference, tastes and opportunities. Very attractive men and women will have a much different life from less attractive individuals. Your physical appearance often dictates your social circle as early as primary school. Were you one of the cool kids or more of a nerd like me?
And this is me thinking about a typical life in suburban Australia. Most of you may be able to relate.
But if we’re talking to everyone on a global scale (as I am here), what’s shared and what’s assumed?
Let’s pick three destinations in our world (use satellite mode for the best appreciation):
G’day, if you’re a reader from any of these places. 👋
Is it fair to say a “normal life” would differ significantly from each other? Maybe they’d differ significantly from yours.
If we put you and a resident from each in a room together, what would you all have in common? What now, is considered normal?
In all consideration, I think it’d be your everyday existence as a human being. Waking up each day. Breathing, eating, sleeping. Sure, there may be family, education (for children) and work. But all would differ substantially, and in the case of North Sentinel Island, no one really knows.
“Fine, I get your point. Everyone’s life is different. Where the hell are you going with this?”
I could have been a farmer.
My parents ran their own business - growing and sending fresh produce to the local and Sydney markets. They wanted me to play a role; in time taking over and running the show, just as many other family businesses do.
But farming was never my calling and I pursued my own path in life.
My parents understood that, but there are others who’d put pressure and expectations on their children. The family name is synonymous with their craft and must be carried on from their generation to the next.
Look at Prince Harry. Did he sign up to be British royalty?
And then you criticise him for leaving the Monarchy because he’s not upholding tradition. It’s his fucking life!
We define the expectations of others with unwritten rules like:
If you’re a single woman above the age of thirty, you’d better start thinking about settling down.
Just look at that article. You should do so when you feel comfortable, however, according to the experts...I’m sorry Jen, but I respectfully disagree with the message you’re conveying. And it’s not your fault for believing in what you wrote.
The natural progression in life is marriage, then kids.
When it comes to having children, I’ve heard both sides of the story.
"It’ll change your existence as you know it. You’re no longer thinking about yourself, but of something much greater which you’ve created and raising as a little version of you. It gives life more meaning and the bond a parent has with their child is like no other."
Whilst others would say, "If I were to do it again, I wouldn’t have kids. They’re a long-term investment in time and money. I would be able to enjoy life how I choose, travel the world, live in the moment and my financial position would allow greater philanthropic endeavours to make a difference in society to the underprivileged."
I’ve said it before - the wrong people in life are breeding. But society casts a judgemental eye on those people equally as they do to a couple who have chosen to not have kids. And we fail to see that sometimes it’s not by choice, but by circumstance.
“He who dies with the most toys wins.”
What do you do for work? How much do you earn? Do you own your own home?
For some, we’re doing what we can to get by. To put food on the table. To keep a roof over our heads. Life isn’t easy for us all.
Wealth is a motivation for almost everyone. Imagine what you could do if you were financially free to afford all of life’s pleasures. But society has made it a competition between us and how we judge our level of success against others.
Yet for some, none of that stuff matters.
For many of us, our parents are a strong influence in our lives. But whilst they’re providing wisdom and guidance based on their own experience of life, ultimately, they come from a different generation.
If your parents lived through the 1970s, here are some societal norms back then:
- It was a luxury to own a colour television
- A large percentage of the population smoked cigarettes
- The median age for marriage was low to mid-twenties
- The median house price in Sydney was only six times the average annual income
- You were so not cool unless you had fondue parties
The world was a different place, just as it was for their parents before them.
Attitudes towards relationships and marriage have evolved.
Foul language, sex and violence on screen were taboo. Cartoons were wholesome fun for all ages. I can imagine the reaction of my parents watching the South Park clip (linked in the subtitle).
Advancements in technology have given us more opportunities than ever before. You’re reading an online blog. How far would it reach if written back then?
There is nothing stopping you from doing what you want in life.
Want to quit your job and pursue your passion?
Join an organisation and fight for a cause you believe in?
Or start your own companies that will revolutionise the areas of finance, land and space travel?
Careful consideration should be given to the most life-changing decisions (obviously...duh).
But don’t do something because it’s expected of you. Do it because you want to.
It’s your life. You’re the one who has to live with yourself. It’s your reflection you see in the mirror every day. Are you happy with the person you see? If not, do something about it. You don't want to look back with regret, wishing you did something when it's too late.
There are those of us content to stay in their lane, follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s much easier because the path has been set by those before you and easy to follow. You can still have a great life.
Some of us will have our lives taken too soon. The future will always remain uncertain, so be grateful for every waking day you have and live how you choose to live. Who gives a fuck about what other people think, and equally, don’t judge others for choosing how they live theirs.
It’s their life.
You’re unlike anyone else, you’re different. Be different. Carve your own path. Go your own way. And own it. It’s your life. Live the way you want to live and enjoy the ride.