When I was growing up, I always had this idea ingrained in my head about how my future would play out. It goes something like this:
After graduating from high school, I would go to college.
While I was in college, I would find a guy and fall in love.
After graduating from college, I would get married and start a career.
And after a while, I would have kids and start a family, leaving that career behind. I would maybe have the opportunity to pick the career back up once the kids were grown, but a large portion of my life would be spent as a mother, a wife, a homemaker.
This is the traditional way that American society sets us on our way – the expectation of the American Dream and all that it entails. For women, the expectations are clear: at some point in your life, your biological clock starts ticking, and you give up everything else to have a baby (or many babies).
But what happens if you start traveling down that road, and realize that the traditional path isn’t your path?
I’d love to say that society embraces your choice, and supports your decisions… but I would be a big, fat liar. It’s more like weird looks and puzzled whispering when you walk out of a room; people wonder what’s wrong with you!
Now, I know that our society has made many gains in the past 100 years – the fact that I can vote, and that I own my own business – yeah, that was made possible due to some amazing women standing up against the status quo and demanding more. Equal rights, the suffragette movement – those brave women paved the way so that I can make the choice to live life on my terms, and to those women I am eternally grateful.
(And, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with the traditional path. I have great respect for those people who dedicate their lives to raising the next generation, and who are made incredibly happy by doing so.)
But – that path? It’s not for me. So here I stand today – divorced, owning my own business, and with no intention of having kids.
I have pretty much smacked society and its traditional expectations square across the face.
And you know what? I’m okay with that.
I’m here to tell you that if you want to step outside the traditional way of doing things, do it. Be brave – take that step – live the life that you want to live. You are the only person who can make you happy, who knows what you want out of the life you have been given. Make the most of it. Live YOUR life, follow your authentic path.
My take is that as long as we’re happy, and making a positive difference in this world, then we must be doing something right.
The world would be awfully boring if we all followed the same path.
My invitation to you is this: come color outside the lines with me, decide on your own path – and who knows? By going against the grain, maybe we will look back someday and see a change in the definition of traditional!
A girl can hope, right?
PS. I would love to continue this conversation with anyone who is interested. Feel free to leave me a comment, or get in touch with me via twitter, email, whatever!
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