Ehi Ade Mabo: Before You Yield To Societal Pressure…
I was catching up with an old friend, and after the regular questions like “So Ehi, how is marriage treating you?” and going over the same ol gist on the weather, work, business etc, she finally posed that dreaded question. The one we all know is on the mind of everyone but one you never want to be on the receiving end of and somehow you hope they wont just bring it up and randomly insert it somewhere in the gist…yes that one!
“So when is the baby coming? Are you not pregnant yet?”
The first thought that occurred to me was ahh! she went there! I know she didn’t just ask me if I was pregnant. After what seemed like a round of dumb bells hit my ear drum, I tried to open my mouth to say something that sounded almost smart or intelligent and nothing came out.
a few seconds of stuttering with uhmm’s and ahh’s later, I had to make a quick decision. Did I want to go with the popular line of “well, we are not ready yet” or “you know, God’s time is the best” “we are taking our time”? A few politically correct options came to mind within 3 seconds. Perhaps I could just tell her to bugger off and just mind her own business. The last option was the option I settled with, but somehow as I opened my mouth to say those words that would give me infinite peace…forever at least from this one friend, my tongue did not seem to agree. Considering that my tongue is often boss over my head sometimes, I stuttered the words “…yeh, we are not thinking about babies now”
You see, each of us have found ways to adapt to societal pressures. The same way we have a heavy heart and everything isn’t quite well but when asked “how are you”? it never occurs to you to say otherwise. So the first words you spew out, are always: “I’m fine”, “ I’m good” and you even go on to reciprocate the good manners and ask the person back in return “…and you?” even with tears in your eyes, it’s just a polite thing to do.
Now, while I think most folks have curtailed the habit of interfering in one’s privacy regarding the issue of pregnancy or least they find a way to do it decently by not speaking to you directly but will still speak around you indirectly. This can be by asking the difficult questions to others, posing pressure on your parents, in-laws, family members who in turn feel obliged and justified to transfer the pressure on to you. However, what may be taking the cake for the most annoying category of pressure in our day today will have to be the pressure to be married!!!
I speak to so many ladies everyday whose sole worry is wanting to be married but incidentally, not because they are in that much of a hurry to race down the aisle, but more because mom, dad, grand ma, numerous company of aunties, uncles even mom’s friends and their dogs have formed an alliance to marry off the young lady. This coalition of supporters club mean well, and do not often realize the subtle pressure they put on one.
So in the face of unnecessary pressure and societal demands, how can we stay grounded? If our lives will be open for public scrutiny and will be used as a canvass for societal standards, then we must guard ourselves against the emotional and torrential burden that society brings upon us.
If it is true that we cannot stop people from offering unsolicited advice on: A) Your hair texture, whether you wear it too spongy and natural (so therefore you must be broke or uncouth) or you wear it too straight, (therefore you must be trying too hard to be something you are not)
Perhaps it is also true that you may not be able to stop folks from passing judgment on B) why you are still single in your 30’s (There must be something wrong with you) or C) why you do not have a child after 5 years of marriage.
You cannot deter them from questioning D) why you chose to spend your life studying fashion or in a beauty shop (you must be either wayward or not smart enough) whilst your mates took on ‘more esteemed’ professions.
You may not change the world by wrestling with everyone who questions E) how you choose to spend your money or F) why you are too thick and you need the gym ASAP or G) why you are too skinny, lean and unattractive and H) For a woman, you are definitely too over educated and wealthy, you need to dumb it down or you might as well forget about B above.
Pick an alphabet or a couple, make some brightly colored Lego bridge with it and cross over to the other side of the fence with me Let’s stay on the side of the fence that is neither moved by societal pressure nor will yield to its unreasonable demands of life as it should be
Something that must be noted about pressures from society is that most people live and dwell in fear. Most of us are really just trying hard to fit in, blend in for fear of being noticed and being in the limelight. It stems back to the fear of our light, fear of being ridiculed and standing out, fear of greatness so we strive so earnestly to mix up, get lost and unnoticed in the swarm of fads, trends and habits.
In order to not appear “weird” or “odd”, we prefer to do the ordinary and regular – rush into marriage, settle for a career we are not cut out for just to appear normal and acceptable. We would even go the extent of bleaching our skins and altering our appearance and when its an issue that’s not easily fixed with a weave or an accent, we suffer an emotional lapse and an inferiority complex leading to self esteem issues which then lead to more implicating self-hate and feeling of never good enough.
The next time you think about yielding to societal pressure, think about this:
- We are all society. Societal pressure can only thrive and take negative effect on you for as long as you permit. Remember that in walking your own path, however odd you appear, you unconsciously give others permission to do the same and soon enough we will have a beautiful messy mélange of choices, and ideas.
- Build up your value so you are not feeling worthless about not being on track with society’s calendar. Whilst waiting for things to take its due course, do not be swayed by the happenings around you, rather look for somebody to enhance and uplift. Stand your ground when the unsolicited advice start reeling in.
- Realize that your beauty lies in your difference-whilst you are trying so hard to be accepted and be a part of the comrade, understand that your unique selling point is your “weirdness”.
- Love yourself wholeheartedly-It is not selfish to be in complete love with your strengths and your scars. Beneath the scars and the wounds lie precious stories and experiences that make you unique and make your addition to the world even that much special.
- Your imperfections are a perfect fit to the puzzle. What a boring world it will be if we all looked and behaved the same. Embrace your differences and dust off the pressure.
Lastly, if you do not remember anything else, remember that the societal pressures you feel is really a reflection of people’s fears; and what a mess you would be in if you allowed everyone project their own fears on you.
Go ahead,break out of the mold.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Karen Struthers