Avoiding What Society Expects

Avoiding What Society Expects

At what age do you become aware of what society expects from you?

If you’re female, at some stage you’re expected to find a man, get married and start contributing to the next generation. If you’re a male not only are you expected to marry and procreate but to also have a good job and be the main bread winner for the family.

I was no different some 25+ years ago as I was newly engaged to my boyfriend of 5 years and starting to follow the path I had been set along.  Whilst I thought it was what I wanted there was always this seed of doubt in the back of my mind, like was this it?  Looking back now I hardly recognise the person I was then.

Thankfully, I came to my senses before we ever tied the knot and whilst I wasn’t sure exactly what I did want I definitely knew I didn’t want a husband or kids so I broke off my engagement and dumped the boyfriend and decided to hell with what society expects, I was going to live my life, my way!

“Don’t you find it odd,” she continued, “that when you’re a kid, everyone, all the world, encourages you to follow your dreams. But when you’re older, somehow they act offended if you even try.”
Ethan Hawke, The Hottest State.

Unfortunately some people don’t have this insight until much later in life when there’re already bogged down with a mortgage, 2.4 kids and debt.

Hell, this played out with my own parents. Mum was 19 when she got married and Dad was 23 (and a local catch so my mum used to tell it). Mum freely admitted that she wasn’t in love with my father but women in the 1960’s didn’t have careers and were expected to marry, be housewives, and have children so what was she going to do?

Fast forward 20 years and 2 kids later Mum and Dad were divorced. As Mum explained it she had been Dad’s wife, our Mum and Nan & Grandpa’s daughter all her life and now she needed to be her.

Don’t get me wrong, my brother and I had a good childhood with a lot of happy memories but after raising us she needed more, she needed to see who she was.

A while ago we were out with friends and we were putting the world to rights over a bottle or two of Pinot and I asked a question:

Picture an old man who lives in a hut, on a beach, who spends his days in an old pair of cut-off jeans doing whatever he likes and only works odd jobs when he needs money. What would you think?

Everybody said roughly the same thing, poor bastard. Ali and I smiled at each other and said, lucky bastard. He gets to live his life on his terms exactly as he wants to. No material possessions to tie him down, no people telling him what he should be doing, no stress, no pressure, no anxiety. Just filling his days doing whatever he pleases and only feeling the need to work when he needs food.

Now that sounds like my idea of heaven and if I could cope with the heat and didn’t burn so easy I would seriously consider it. 🙂

From my observations of friends and family there seems to be a lot of unhappy people and marriages out there. Couples who got married young before they had a chance to really explore who or what they really wanted. They just did what was expected of them without question.

If I had a pound for each time someone has told me how lucky Ali and I are to be living how we want to live I’d be a very rich woman.

It certainly wasn’t easy to buck the trend and not follow what was expected of me. For a fair few years I drifted and on more than one occasion I questioned myself and wished I had just gone along with getting married, having kids and ignoring that voice inside of me that told me it wasn’t for me.

So, was it worth all the hassle?

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Because I have ended up with my soulmate, the other half of me, my one true love! Someone who still, after almost 13 years together and 10 years married, makes my tummy flip flop when they smile at me. (edit from wifey – ME TOO!!!)

For us we really are living our dreams and working towards where we want to be. We’re both self-employed and making a lot more money than we ever would in our old jobs, we get to spend 24/7 in each other’s company (a living nightmare for a lot of couples) but we love it. We own our own house and car and have plans to move up to the Scottish Highlands and eventually build our own house.

Now would I have had any of this if I had married the boyfriend and had kids? Who knows but one thing I do know is I will be forever grateful for my inner voice that I listened to 25 odd years ago.

“People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours. Live your truth and don’t EVER stop!”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free.

Until next time,

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4 Comments

  1. Michael O'Mally
    28 Feb 2016

    Just read this post and wanted to leave a reply to say this has happened with me with regards to the whole marrage and kids.

    I’m a gay man who lives with my boyfriend and we definately don’t want the whole 2.4 kids and a white picket fence.

    It was always understood that me being gay meant no wife or kids but when the law changed regarding civil partnerships and adoption my 2 sisters (who are both married with 4 kids between them) now constantly go on about “when am I going to get married and have kids”! Even though I’ve never wanted kids of my own.

    It seems even gay men and woman are left feeling inadequate if they don’t conform to what society calls “normal”.

    • Kate_H
      28 Feb 2016

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post and leaving a comment.

      I totally understand where you are coming from. Most of my family aren’t too bad with the whole kids thing as I never wanted children of my own and even if I was straight I still would never have wanted them.

      Ali and I love being Aunties and would do anything for our Nieces and Nephew but neither of us ever had that maternal gene.

      Some people just don’t get why any person would not want children, like its our duty to procreate and we’re lesser people because we’ve chosen not to.

      All I know is we have a lot less stress or relationship problems than most of our friends who have families.

  2. Ali
    16 Feb 2016

    The inner voice knows a heck of a lot more than the outer one I think. Maybe we should all listen to our own inner voices a lot more than we do now 🙂

    • Kate_H
      28 Feb 2014

      That’s very true.

      I also see lots of people clinging to something that’s no longer there.

      Even if you’re “in love” when you marry doesn’t mean you will feel the same 10 or 20 years later!

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