ARE you living a cookie-cutter life? A life dictated by rigid timelines and underscored by difficult-to-attain facets? One that requires you to plan your life around ideals that are sometimes so suffocating that you lose all sense of control. Those that are so clearly determined by society's construct, which for centuries has told us how to look, feel, and live.
Consider this question carefully, then ask yourself, "Am I living within the realms of my existence? Or am I living according to a cardboard cut-out image set by culture?"
Structured living, by and large, ensures equilibrium and prevents society from diving into a cesspool of anarchism. Rules concerning when we should eat, what age we are allowed to drive and legally consume alcohol protects us from abuse and injury and preserves a sense of civility.
However, there are times when those rules become overarching. When they painstakingly provide a road map to aspects of our lives that quite frankly should be informed by our interest, life circumstances, and a pace that best suits us.
"A woman should get married by 26."
"Don't mix books and boys." "Keep going for the boy, nah!!!" "Ignore all them woman he have; every woman does go through that!"
"Yah 35 and nah have a child yet?"
Women are repeatedly told what to do. When we should get married, how to endure adultery, how many children we should have, and the appropriate time to do so. Plain and simple, we are treated like perishable goods, with a fast-moving expiry date. Thank goodness we live in a forward-thinking society that has bent over backwards to create a road map for us. One that ensures we don't run out of time and subscribe to anti-normative behaviour.
And yes, no matter how socially aware we are as a society, make no mistake; those who step outside the box are quickly labelled deviant. Have you ever heard how lowly society speaks of women of a certain age without a husband or child? Or a young woman who doesn't seem to be in a hurry to dive right into family life?
When some women hit mid 20's they go on a frantic chase for the perfect man to secure a house and kids before they reach mid-30. We sometimes do this without recourse for red flags, reprehensible behaviour, and compatibility, leaving us stuck, years down the road pondering whether it was even worth it.
We live in a society that tells us no matter what we've attained professionally, we cease to exist unless we can replicate this brilliance using the model template of family life, vis-à-vis husband, child, and home. It's disturbing to think that our life has been so sneakily mapped out for us. Concepts so deeply embedded that some of us genuinely believe that it will lead us to the proverbial yellow-brick road if we follow society's checklist.
And the reason clouted for such direct instruction is continuously linked to our biological clock. Of course, the very nature of the female reproductive system places inevitable limitations on our abilities. But why do we allow this variable to control our narrative to the point where almost every decision is influenced by it?
Men face similar struggles to obtain the perfect cookie-cutter life. Still, women are under far more pressure because of the backlash we receive, which is often of a more significant consequence than men of the same age. Sure, men are looked upon disparagingly if they get to the winter of their lives without checking standard boxes, but for the most part, they can live freely without constant reproach.
This conformist's attitude that is forced upon us doesn't always allow for ingenuity and creativity. And often, we are compelled to dance to the beat of someone else's drum. A life of stability and monotony isn't always bad. And women who sing to their own tune, having followed their heart and obtained what society deems appropriate, shouldn't feel bad for what they've freely accomplished. It is when we are tricked into accepting standards that don't define us or the concept of others are forced upon us, that we sell ourselves short to please the narrative that society writes for us.
As long as we live within society's bounds, we owe it to ourselves to be completely honest and draw a life-map that truly represents us. Don't get married because society says time is running out or limit yourself because you are afraid you'll be judged. Dig your heels in, stay true to yourself and don't let society say who you should be.