Why do I feel like nobody says this anymore unless it’s in that passive-aggressive way towards a lover when you’re really not feeling their actions at the moment but don’t want to admit it? Today’s culture has become a very opinionated one. Or maybe it’s just because social media allows you to force-feed your viewpoint to the world, whether they want to hear your views or not. In the midst of witnessed heated debates galore on Facebook involving various topics such as gun violence, race issues, women’s rights, or what that rapper did, it’s like you can’t NOT give your opinion (well, I can…) and simply tossing it into the interwebs makes you somewhat of an expert over the computer.
What sucks is when you become entangled in the sticky web of suffocating perspectives from the world and forget that you too, have one as well.
“Follow your heart.” “Do what feels right.”
Those used to be really popular guidelines once upon a time. Now that everyone is an Internet expert on everything from politics, to relationships, to how to make the most out of life, have a fulfilling career, and make money from your couch totally legitimately, you rarely hear advice tailored specifically for the person being given the advice. Blanket recommendations repackaged and reposted for mass consumption are the norm, even though we’re fully aware that the same things don’t work for everybody. Even those you’re closest to may not offer you direction based on your character. For the past few years I’ve gotten encouraged to have a baby, despite my being divorced and without a stable father figure that would be around for the child, simply because I shouldn’t “wait too long.” I hear that “There are lots of single mothers,” and that, “Your mom did it.” Right, but why would I want to actively choose to be a single mother solely for the purpose of having a baby that you want me to have that I’m not even happy about making the decision of having?
I’ve never been the type to fear walking a different path from my family or friends. That’s the thing about pioneering. Someone has to clear that path that they didn’t find by following everyone else’s roadmap and set a new route. Sometimes you can’t give a fuck about everyone else’s opinion. Sometimes your opinion will be the unpopular one and that’s fine, because it’s your choice and it’s your life and you have to live it.
A few years ago I worked on Wall Street for an office that had just been bought out by a highly reputable, long-time respected company that brought us awesome health benefits, 401K options, and a stable future.
And I quit.
Poor management and extreme burnout severely diminished my mental quality of life. I would literally wake up every morning and think “This shit again…” Turnover was high, loyalty was non-existent, bathroom meltdowns by co-workers not uncommon. One day, shaking from anger and disrespect brought on by my manager on my lunch hour in an outdoor courtyard, I decided I couldn’t do it anymore, and that I’d rather venture into the unknown and learn a whole new set of skills than remain in my secure position clutching what little seniority I had with the company. So I sought out a startup with an uncertain future, took a pay cut, and haven’t regretted my choice one iota. In just a few short years I’ve surpassed my old salary in my current position, my company has gone remote, and my current boss is a wizard.
It’s a risk that many may not have taken. But having poured 7 years into my old job and endured the humiliating devaluation of my work ethic, I didn’t care who advised me not to do it. It was my life and I had to get out. Some risks are applauded and others are scoffed at until they pay off.
After a breakup, everyone tells you to “focus on yourself.” Which is stellar advice if you gave up everything you love in your relationship and forgot what it meant to do things you enjoy. But believe it or not, some people are fully grounded in who they are and don’t abandon their hobbies just because they’re with someone else. I didn’t hang out with my friends any less, and in fact explored new interests. My friends remain the same whether i’m in a relationship or not; married, with children, engrossed in graduate programs or simply living their own lives.
Maybe your circle advises you to stay single and sleep around (But I’m not too fond of casually sleeping around and prefer meaningful connections). Or don’t sleep around at all and do other things (But I LOVE SEX and I was doing those things anyway). So make new friends if your current ones are busy (Which is exactly how you meet new people and possible new romantic interests who pursue you). But don’t rush into anything (Have you tried online dating nowadays? First date — ANALYSIS. Second date — Is something gonna happen here? Third date — We sleeping together or nah?). I discovered I despise online dating because of the clinical and rapid pace you’re thrown into things. And that my mom’s dating standards are far different than my own, with car, apartment, and lucrative job weighing more than attentiveness, connection, and honesty (curse my Millennial-ness).
Despite what advice anyone has to give you, we are all going through life on our first try. Your own intuition should always be your best guide, while recommendations come second. Be bold and confident in this one life you have and wear that cheeky bikini or those short shorts, or that outfit that you second-guess whether it’s “appropriate” for your age (because apparently in non-American cultures, they dgaf). Go to cosplay parties even though you’re in your 30s, take handstand classes just because it’s random, bounce around with your cousins at a trampoline park until you’re exhausted even though it’s mostly for children, and take hip-hop classes because your family always told you that you couldn’t dance.
Fall in love as often as your heart allows, and don’t be ashamed at its capacity. You only have one life and you can spend it diving headlong into the unknown or tiptoe-ing the outskirts according to someone else’s standards. Take a spontaneous trip to Chicago for Pokemon GO Fest (WHICH I DAMN SURE WOULD HAVE DONE HAD THE TICKETS NOT SOLD OUT). Because sometimes you want to do something like fly out and get a hotel room for a night for a one-day mobile phone event. Yes, as an adult woman, you can travel with others who may not be the same gender as you that you met on Facebook, or Meetup, or Twitter. It’s okay.
And by the same notion, don’t do what DOESN’T feel right to pacify your circle or what the “Internet experts” encourage either. Ignore the pressures to cave to organized religion (because they discuss behind your back about how you should) or hop on the Brazilian wax bandwagon (because even bikini-waxing was too intense for my tolerance). Free-spirit your way through life without make-up and heels, and be the one in the family with the unconventional natural look, oblivious to trends.
The more life you live, the more you find that ignoring your intuition is a waste. Lupe Fiasco said you can’t take back words you never said, and the same goes for actions. You can’t take them back if you didn’t do them. If it’s going to make you happy and you’re highly sure you won’t regret it, do it. If everyone looks at you oddly because your decisions are different from what they would have chosen, good. That’s why they’re your decisions and not theirs. And individuals exist to operate outside of a hive mind. Don’t ever forget to be loyal to your true self first.
Because it’s not your best friend’s baby, or your co-worker’s relationship, or your mother’s job, or your family’s trip, or the world’s life, or the Internet’s happiness. It’s yours.
~Tael (Strong Intuitionist)