I started to notice a pattern. It wasn’t one time that these questions would come up immediately preceding my statements about my big life changes. This was how almost every single interaction played out. This continued before, during, and immediately after returning from my trip.
I always would laugh it off, adding in an overly-cavalier “Yep. Not a clue.”
But the reality is that it bothered me.
Those small and seemingly harmless questions bothered me. I’d think, “wait..should I be worried about it?” And before I even realized it, I was chowing down on a heaping portion of IPOF. It definitely didn’t taste good. Definitely didn’t make me feel good, but I kept eating it anyways.
You have to understand that I was raised by two unwaveringly supportive, positive, and unconventional parents. I mean my mother is this sweet little Japanese/Italian fairy who quite literally dances around singing songs from Sleeping Beauty and who’s favorite quotes are “only too much is enough” and “to each their own’ said the old woman as she kissed the cow.” (Yes, she learned that second quote from one of the dementia patients at the facility she works at- her “Virgo friend Mary Jane Livingston.” No, you aren’t surprised.) She doesn’t delve into deep probing questions or conundrums and just kind of happily floats along. Unlike my father, who can theorize for hours on end about anything quantum-related (well, anything related to anything) and built his life and net worth essentially by taking risks, proving people wrong, and disregarding the status quo when it didn’t suit him. Thus, my psyche was, in part, protected by their parenting.
The fact is, I had just gotten over those questions/fears! I had just fucking spent months and months reminding myself and counteracting all of the inappropriate fears to get to the place I was at so I could enjoy my next steps, including my trip and the simultaneous and subsequent “road to self discovery.”
Here’s another fact: I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I got back.
Here’s a third fact: Not knowing was okay with me. I was comfortable with it. That is, until I was told by others that I should not be comfortable with it and rather be fearful.
People project their fears and feelings sometimes knowingly, but often unknowingly, onto others. It happens all of the time. This was the case with all of the loaded questions I was receiving. There is a place for these questions. They are reasonable questions. However, it’s the projected weight and pressures that come along with them that I take issue with. The unhealthy additive: IPOF.
When we are unsure of ourselves and people touch on those insecurities, it can send is into a downward spiral.
Here’s the takeaway:
It has to be okay. If other people can’t accept that as the very valid answer it is, then they really have some big personal fears they are hiding behind. It has nothing to do with you. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone, except yourself. Do not allow other people’s fears to dictate how you live your life.
“Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself”- Harvey Fierstein