Once upon a time, a baby was born and his whole life was already planned out ahead of him. Whether he was wealthy or poor, royalty or urchin, the basic path of his life was there long before he was. Very few of his own choices were his own. He would choose one of a limited number of careers, very likely take over whatever his father did before him. He would marry at a certain age and, if he was especially unfortunate, he would get to pick his own wife. He would have a few children at some point and they would follow in his footsteps almost exactly.
If a baby was born a girl, she would likely have even less control over her destiny.
Society used to have certain expectations of its people. You would be judged harshly if you didn’t conform the way you were supposed to. If you didn’t want what everyone else wanted, you had to pretend you did. The risks could be as simple as being shunned by other people or as life-destroying as ending up committed to a lunatic asylum.
For wanting to make your own decisions.
In more modern culture, people have a lot more control over their own life. There is a lot less pressure from society what jobs people should do and what age they should marry and for what reasons.
Today, you are lucky enough to be able to choose your career. To choose who to love. To choose how to express that love – whether that means you want to get married or not, have children or not, live together or not. There are laws put into place that protect your right to manage each aspect of your life precisely as you wish to.
Society is still pushing for some people to have the freedom that most of us do. But, for the most part, we are lucky to be born into a relatively free and tolerant culture.
So don’t take that freedom for granted.
Don’t do what is expected of you if it’s not what you absolutely, definitely want.
If you’re unsure about a decision, wait before you commit to a choice. It doesn’t matter what it is.
For perhaps the first time in human history, people are able to decide precisely what they want out of life regardless of what is the social norm. Not everyone’s happily ever after has to mean marriage and babies and a nine-to-five job.
These choices, that used to be made for us, are now ours to write our own way. We have a freedom that was denied to many generations before us. We may as well treat these decisions with respect and make sure that we are making the best of these rights.
Especially when making the kind of choice that will stick with you for the rest of your life – to move to the other side of the world, to sign a contract on a new job or a new house, to get married, to have a baby – make sure that you make sure that it really is what you want.
And not just what you’re supposed to want.
What you’re told to want.
You get one chance to do this right. Live your life for you and you alone. It doesn’t matter who will be disappointed. It’s your job, your relationship, your body, your life. You may as well be happy with it.
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