“I didn’t raise you to…”
“If you had just listened to me…”
“Why can’t you just…”
We, the adult offspring of well meaning people, have heard these words time and time again. Given the time of year, many of us are about to hear some iteration of them in the coming weeks and will be talked at by our parents, grandparents, or other beloved elders who disagree with our hair, attire, expressed ideologies, relationship status, career choice, course of study, claimed identities, or general state of being because it doesn’t suit their liking.
Many of us will sit there and work to not (blatantly) roll our eyes as we internally stew over the irritation and/or pain that comes with being dressed down and being told that who we are is not enough.
We will go down mental checklists of all the things these beloved family members have no clue about in our worlds as we fight against the impulse to scream.
We will have internal dialogues and daydreams featuring all the shit we wish we could say but that our respective cultures and rearing disallow us from saying.
Regardless what you are able to articulate during these sit downs, know that this life is yours to live.
I think we need to be reminded of this so I’ll say it again.
Your life is yours to live.
Furthermore, you are not required to serve as a canvas on which others can project their desires. It’s unfair for people to live out their dreams through you or who, even in adulthood, push their ideals off onto you (especially when they’ve had lifetimes of their own to have done this with/in).
I’m reminded of this when I speak to dear friends whose families try to force them into relational spaces they’ve articulated they aren’t ready for like marriage because somebody’s mama wants to plan a wedding.
I’m reminded of this when I talk to folks who are struggling with career choices because they’re afraid of the communal backlash that will likely come if they pursue their interests instead of what their families deem to be respectable or successful.
Hell, I’m reminded of this every time I have a conversation with my own family and things I needed to navigate on my journey are framed as failures instead of as experiences that I found truth or lessons in.
This life is yours to live, so live it.
There is a way to honor the people who invested in you and who love you while still casting off the ill-fitting garments of expectations that don’t align with your values.
It’s ok to have your dreams, your style, your experiences and embrace your unapologetic you-ness.
Your elders have made their choices and are living lives tempered by the decisions that they made – whether that be through exercising their own sense of agency or out of obligation.
Life is fleeting and your days can either be spent getting in line with someone else’s vision for you or through creating a masterpiece of your own design.
I think you owe it to yourself to try your hand at your own artistry.