Posts Tagged ‘ adulthood ’

On failing to meet expectations

“I shouldn’t go but I can’t really help it when I feel this pressure”
Floorplan by Tegan and Sara

I’ve been what you might call “a good girl” for most of my life. I never smoked, never did drugs, never got drunk, and especially never had sex. I pretty much made an effort to ensure that I didn’t deviate from the norm (or at least, what is considered the norm amongst my very very conservative circle of family and friends). I put this down to my parents’ influence. Now, in my early twenties however, I guess it seems like I’m having what some might call, “an identity crisis” or experiencing what others might deem as being “a rebellious phase” in my life.

I’m not the kind of person who likes to disappoint people – far from it actually! I’ve always felt like I never gave my parents any cause for distress growing up. Now however, I feel like I’m disappointing them left, right and centre. To them it’s as if I’ve suddenly changed overnight and they no longer recognize me and they’ve started to wonder where they went wrong, even though to me, in my perspective, my life hasn’t taken a turn for the worse and I don’t think they’ve done anything wrong at all! In fact, I think it doesn’t really have anything to do with them. But to them, there are two types of people: in simplified terms, good people, and bad people. The good people are those who don’t do any of the above things: smoke, get drunk, do drugs, have sex outside of marriage, swear, get tattoos, etc, and the bad people are those who do. The good people also coincidentally go to church and get good grades and etc. I don’t believe, however, that people are necessarily good or bad; I think people are just different. A person might make a lot of bad decisions in their life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a bad person. My parents, and a lot of the people I know, see the world in black and white. That’s fine, that’s their prerogative. That’s just not how I see the world; I don’t believe in moral absolutes. Yes, I am trying to figure out who I am and who I’m going to be in the future, and I don’t care so much now about people’s expectations of me. Although I may have changed a lot in the eyes of my family and friends in the past few months, and I acknowledge that a lot of things in my life have changed, I don’t feel like I’m any less of a person now than I was then. I’m just different.

A number of people have asked me what happened? How did I become this other person that they don’t even recognise? The honest answer is, I don’t know. I honestly think that I was never the person people thought I was to begin with. Or it’s like, I’ve always felt that there were two sides to me: the person I wanted to be and the person I had to be. I always felt constrained to being “a good girl” on the outside because I love my parents and I didn’t want to disappoint them. I also didn’t want to disappoint the various other people in my life who were counting on me to be this kind of person. On the inside though, I know that I was never the girl I seemed to be on the outside, and I’ve realised that I can’t keep pretending to be someone I’m not. I can’t stand being tied down by peoples’ expectations of me. And I still do love my family and friends, even if I am a disappointment to them, even if I can’t fulfill their expectations of me, even if they can’t accept me for who I am and the decisions I make in life.

I don’t know whether to feel anger or sadness or indifference about how a lot of my family and friends see me now. I’m thankful to have met people who do understand where I’m coming from and who can empathise with me. Without them I’d feel so completely and utterly alone. Some might call me selfish or rebellious, but really, it is my life, and fail or succeed, I have to make my own decisions and find my own way through it. I love my family and I love my friends, but if it came down to making them happy or making myself happy, I would choose myself. That might sound selfish to you, but I think that we all have the right to pursue happiness in life, and I also think that we do, even if we don’t want to admit that to ourselves; the only difference is in what we hope will bring us that happiness. If only what would make me happy would make my parents happy too, or vice versa. Unfortunately life just doesn’t always turn out to be that easy. If only love were enough to resolve all our differences and make us at peace with one another.

My family and some of my friends might be disappointed in me right now, but I’m learning to be ok with that, and I’m holding on to the hope that someday they will eventually be ok with me too.