As I reflect on the events of last week, I can’t help but wonder how much time I wasted attempting to acquire things that I didn’t really need. Specifically, I think about the moments when I allowed others to rob me of the simplicity of my life under the belief that I needed more to be happy. I used to think that I had to be in the latest, the most fashionable, or have specific things/people in my life to be content.
Culture teaches us this. While we generally think about it in terms of media, culture is also your surroundings. It is the family you grow in, the friends you surround yourself with, and these environments shape you to believe certain things. However, when you leave the culture and are introduced into another, you will notice that there may be great conflict within you. Things that you thought you once needed may seem silly. Things that you vowed within yourself to never do might happen, and all of this is for a reason.
When we are taught to require things because it is “normal” we might come into agreement with things that strip away our happiness. And, our willing participation could serve as confirmation of an inner vow.
When I was trying to figure out what a successful relationship looks like between a man and a woman, I heard lots of women say “he should open doors, he should treat you like this or like that.” As a result, I reasoned that if a person did those things then they were “treating me like a woman is supposed to be treated;” however, I didn’t realize that I didn’t require many of the things I heard other women speak of. If he opens doors, ok, great, but if he doesn’t, does that make me less of a woman?
Hear me, I am not speaking against certain actions because I do realize that there are specific things that I expect my spouse to have/do, but I’m drawing attention to the fact that holding doors, every time is not one of them. Do I appreciate the gesture? Yes. But, what I’m saying is that I used to cancel people out of my life because they didn’t completely perform in ways that other people said that they should perform. This was bad behavior.
I’ve since realized that I don’t have to ascribe to the ways that people see the world and relationships. I’ve learned to value my own opinion and stay true to myself. I’ve learned to trust my voice and my calling, and challenge systems that don’t work for me to live the life God created me to live. While all things have the potential to stretch you, they should also solidify who you are on the inner most parts.
It is unfortunate that we live our lives dictated by outside forces that manipulate our actions. It is the subtle things that we hear or see that move us in various directions, and cause us to think, experience, and feel that we require things that are designed for others’ lives.