Life changes us and, if we're good enough, makes us grow. We learn about ourselves and others and can see things differently. I'm not saying that you wake up one day and decide that things are different, but if you never see the difference you're probably doing it wrong. This blog has been an amazing outlet for me to complain about absolute bullshit, and share some happier things. I can't think of something that would make me want to change a single entry, no matter how silly and trivial they might be. Even so, I think it might be time to let some more serious issues permeate this little vent. Each and every one of us has serious things going on every day, even if no one can see it, feel it, or hear it.
Today's interesting topic: Developing as an independent human being.
We are all born into a life. We don't get to choose anything about it. We can't decide wether we will be born rich or poor, where we live, what color our skin is, how great our families are, what we'll look like... we get to make no decisions at that point. The dice roll and out comes a life.
We don't get to start making decisions for ourselves for years. Maybe you chose your friends when you were first able to remember, but chances are they were friendships of proximity and convenience. I still remember watching the Spice Girls and playing Tomb Raider with one of my best friends as a little kid. She was awesome and her parents let her watch VH1, which I was never allowed to do. Her mom always had dinner on the table and her parents didn't fight in front of company. She was really tiny and had long brown hair (even though we haven't talked in years I'm pretty sure those things are still true). Her name was Kelley, and she lived just a few doors down from me. I may have chosen her as a friend out of other neighborhood kids, but our parents got along and she was close to my house, making play dates easy for everyone. Basically, I didn't really get to choose Kelley. She was there. That didn't make her any less cool to hang out with.
When do you start making decisions for yourself? When you go to school? Maybe. Still, even in school you have your classes chosen for you until you're in high school. Your parents can fight for different classes or curriculum but you have no real level of control. By the time you start making decisions about your education most of us are already filled with the thoughts and values of our family of origin. Unless one of those values is independent thinking (something dangerous to instill in your kids) most of us will continue to do what we've always done and seen.
After you turn 18? Some of us go to college, some of us go to work, some of us make some bad decisions and go to jail. Even those outcomes are seriously dependent on our family of origin. Maybe we love our families and want to stay with them forever, so we go to school or work close to them. This, kids, is how entire generations end up living in the same neighborhood forever. There isn't anything wrong with that as long as we learn somewhere along the way to make our own choices and see our world the way it actually is.
Even once we gain independence from this family of origin we are very often still enmeshed with the people and places we came from. Most of us want our families to be proud of us, to care about us, and be there for us when we need them. These yearnings can cause us to tailor our decisions to what other people want rather than what we would truly like. Unfortunately there aren't many people who can be hands off and supportive, loving and separated. At a point most of us have to decide if we want the things that we've always had, the things that make us comfortable, or if we want to pursue our lives in the fashion we see fit.
I hope that there is a way to strike a balance between these two things. It's a complicated dance that doesn't seem easy to learn or maintain. When you start to build the life you want you have to stay away from criticisms that aren't constructive. You've got to find faith in yourself and leave the doubts of others behind. We all have to figure out exactly what it is we want and filter out anything that would make that more difficult. Life is hard enough as it is, nobody needs naysayers following them the whole way.
At 25, with an MA, married, and about 700 miles between myself and my family of origin I still seek their approval and guidance, all while trying to live this life I'm building for myself and the family I'll have. I keep all of these things in mind and hope that I'll figure out the delicate dance to keep my family involved and happy while staying true to myself and the things I want out of life. It's complicated, but it's real life.
Also, hey look how married I am!
(Also real life.)