Human beings are faced with a tremendous amount of pressure to do “stuff.” Whether it is self-imposed simply based on what we see on social media or put on us by the people in our lives, a great deal of the things we do is based on the idea that at a certain point in our lives it’s what we “should” be doing. The trouble is, when you try to meet expectations before YOU’RE ready, it can cause more problems for you down the road, if you ever truly intend to reach those goals for yourself at all.
My very own marriage and subsequent divorce is a prime example of this line of thinking. I met my ex-husband when I was 27. He was a nice, safe guy that I needed in my life to settle me down. He was someone “secure” that would make a good husband. But from the beginning our relationship wasn’t quite right. We didn’t have a lot in common in the way of our personalities and something just always felt a tad uncomfortable. I ignored my gut instincts and pushed those feelings to the back of my mind, because I was convinced that I needed to be married by the time I was 30. I don’t know what I thought was going to happen- the world would end, everyone would suddenly refer to me as “old spinster” or accuse me of witchcraft and burn me at the stake?? Regardless, I got the ring and 2 months before my 30th birthday I walked down the aisle. And 2 years to the day of my wedding, he served me with divorce papers. In the 2 short years of our marriage, I went nuts trying to fix MYSELF to make the relationship better and he found someone else who actually did make him happy. At the time I was devastated, today I am grateful and have a better relationship with him than we did when we were married. If he hadn’t pulled the plug I would have stayed in that my entire life, simply because I “should” be married and I “shouldn’t” be a divorcee. I’ve also been blessed with the opportunity to feel the fire and connection that comes naturally between 2 people when they’re truly in love and now know to never settle for less than that again.
It’s not just me. Everyone I know has done things based solely on the expectations of others or the ones they put on themselves after comparing their lives to others. I know people who are even living a completely unfulfilling life of lies with total disregard to their own happiness simply to accommodate their family’s unrealistic expectations and these are the most tragic cases of all to me. No one should ever have to sacrifice their own happiness to pacify the selfish goals of another. So many of my gay friends have wasted years of their life denying and hiding their true hearts due to the “havoc” it would bring to their loved ones. If someone truly loves you-even If they don’t agree with your personal choices- they will never turn their back on you for pursuing your happiness.
This pressure seems to weigh even heavier on women, especially in the current climate of social media saturation. It’s so easy to feel inadequate after scrolling through picture after picture of happy couples with their children, or bikini fitness models, or cute Pinterest girls in their head-to-toe ensembles and cozy things. But that’s not real life. No one wants to publicly post pictures where they look like a hippo or talk about the fact that they haven’t slept with their perfect husband in months or that they sometimes hide in the bathroom from their “adorable” toddlers. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that everyone’s life is kind of a trainwreck. If it’s not debt or affairs or depression or parents who drive us crazy, it’s something else. No one has a life that is truly worth envying over your own.
We all need to grow at our own pace and stop trying to please everyone before ourselves. Each person has their own story to write and no one else has to read it except you. So stop doing things because it’s what “should” be done and instead start doing the things you feel in your heart. Life is so short, it would be a tragedy to wake up at 80 years old and have a lifetime full of regret or unfulfillment. Turn off the apps, tune out the critics, take off the pressure and let’s all have the courage to start living our own best lives before it’s too late!