Breaking out of my childhood prison: Dealing with stereotypes and expectations
Throughout my teen years, I found myself constantly faced with societal expectations to fit a certain mould. How to be a girl, how to be a sister, how to be a daughter, how to be a friend … and the list goes on. I think the majority of people out there are not sparred from these as well. But, I was nowhere near meeting those expectations.
I was neither gentle nor soft-spoken. I didn’t practice ballet or piano, instead I was in rope skipping CCA. I didn’t have long hair and I didn’t (still don’t) have a wardrobe full of fancy clothes. I was labelled a “tomboy”.
I struggled to find my place in traditional families that favored boys over girls. Families that used to champion perspectives such as girls should do the housework and boys are not required to do so. And if they did, it shall be glorified. I was repeatedly taught to dote on my brother simply because I was the older sibling. But I could never fully agree because of the difference in treatment I experienced. I was not embodying the values instilled by those who felt that they had control over me based on position. I was labelled the “mean sister” and “a rebellious kid”.
I was also not “cool enough” for most friends I met in my younger years. I just couldn’t fit into any clique, which was the one golden ticket to an “admired” social life back then. I was more often than not excluded, rather than included. I didn’t know how to carry myself well, or interact well. I was “too rough”. It was hard to keep friends by my side, people weren’t convinced they should. I was labelled “weird” and a “loner”.
With all that happened, I really felt out of place in every aspect and struggled to accept myself because I was just not “passing” anyone’s standards. Not good enough here, and not good enough there as well.
But, as I entered my late teenage years, I became more self-aware and started to understand who I truly am as a person. That helped me in communicating myself better to people and drawing healthy boundaries for myself. I didn’t want to fit into any mould anymore, I want to be as unique as I am and would be. I want to live my life boldly. After all, if I spend my life trying to appease people, then I am not living for myself!
Truth is, I cannot control what people think or expect of me, so there is really no point in worrying about those. It is more meaningful to focus on what I can control: my own thoughts, opinions, and actions. Don’t ask for permission, just do what I want and maybe beg for forgiveness later on. Friends will come and go for various reasons, but the good ones will stay. And when I know who they are, I’ll make sure to treasure them well.
In retrospect, I’m proud that I have accepted and let go of my past. Besides that, I learnt to be true and honest to myself, pursue the hobbies I enjoy, wear the clothes that makes me feel comfortable, and surround myself with people who makes me happy! I am enough.
Thank you for reading!