No one should get married until they’re at least 25.
Everyone has to have a college degree.
You’re not complete until you have children. Or a husband. Or until you forgive your abusers.
Everyone should be my religion and my religion specifically.
Everyone should have this job.
I see these goddamned headlines everywhere, and all of it is bullshit. It’s shoving flawed ideology down the sad throats of people who need real help. What if I said these instead:
No one should be in a wheelchair.
Everyone should be totally clear of any physical defect.
Everyone who has a mental illness is dangerous to society and should be killed.
Everyone should be this color of skin.
WHOA. That shit is terrible!
Let’s you and me get one thing straight: We are all so very fucking different. I know that in some ways, we are very similar–our physiology is similar, our basic needs and wants, our world. But in our society, in culture, in daily needs and wants and goals and dreams, we just could not be more different.
Last week we talked about breaking away from being put into a box, but today we need to make sure that we’re not doing that to others based on our own experiences.
A lot of advice I see these days reads as all-encompassing mandatory generalities. If it’s about marriage, it’s about why everyone should or shouldn’t get married at any age because it’ll destroy you otherwise. If it’s about children it’s about why everyone should or shouldn’t have them and how many and how to raise them or you’ll screw up your life, the food chain, and children all at the same time. If it’s religion, it’s about how everyone has to be this one religion and this one subset of it or you’ll ruin everything also you’re really stupid.
Why in the hell does that make any sense at all?
For those of you who are writing the advice, what authority do you feel you have to say that everyone has to do what you want the way you want? The answer, if you have one, is that you don’t have that authority. It’s part of a thing called autonomy–we get to choose what we want for ourselves.
For those of you who are listening to this advice and feeling boxed in, feeling like an outsider, feeling like hey maybe this is all a bad idea–you’re right. It’s part of a thing called autonomy–we get to choose what we want for ourselves.
The beautiful part about humanity is the capacity to choose our own identities, and to find common ground despite our differences and dissimilar ideas. The beautiful part about identity is that we get to choose our own, that we get to say who we based on our own experiences and ideas.
So if you got married later than 25 and had a great experience, by all means, write about it, but don’t exclude those who got married younger. If you had kids, awesome for you! If not, also awesome for you! If you’re offering advice, remember that the things that work for you don’t always work for others. Your answer is not the be all end all.
You be you. You do what is right for you. You don’t take shit from nobody.