Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 11/13/2021
“Of course, you are an expert in your own eyes, you have gotten this far and survived. But try to keep in mind, that the person right across from you, that you feel is so blind… survived a different set of circumstances, they’ve lived a separate life.” -EaE
Society says… “You resigned? Why? Are you going to go back and work for them? What about retirement? Did you find a job yet? How about now? How about now? Are you looking for work? Did you hear back? When’s the start date? How’s the pay?” I say, one pandemic led to another mass pandemic: burnout. Questioning our jobs and what needs to take priority in our lives is crucial. Prioritizing mental health over a job is never a bad thing, especially when you find the option and resources to do just that. It’s okay to switch fields when you realize you are in the wrong field. It’s okay to take a pay cut if it’s worth saving your sanity. It’s also okay to take a break completely to recharge. Being demonized and harassed for a break says more about the individuals chastising you, than it does about you.
Society says… “You do martial arts..? But why? It’s dangerous. You’re a scholar, don’t mess up your brain! Men may not like women that can beat them up, or that rolls around with other men all evening.” I say, do whatever you want, whatever you love as long as you are doing your best not to harm others in the process. I know I know… martial arts but, we can tap out and spare our lives. This is more of an issue of perception, as well as people’s deep seated fears in what they do not understand. And, in most cases, we do not understand a hobby/ sport/ lifestyle that we haven’t participated in. Some may also shame it because they do not understand what it can cost us to give up our special coping outlets. Also, gender norms and roles are still running rampant, even in 2021.
Society says… “You just went through a break up, be single and alone. For a good while, but not forever! Love yourself. Heal alone. Don’t be bitter and talk about the break up too much, it was your fault anyways. When you find the ‘right’ person, it won’t be like that anyways.” I say, the majority of people are talking out their ass when it comes to love, relationships, break ups and the ‘how to’ on how to heal. Why? The majority of this is about experimentation, mistakes, lessons, emotions, hardships but then also, individuality. People have a bad habit of using their personal story and blanketing it over the majority. People also have a bad habit of creating too many ‘rules’ toward something that is often widely unpredictable and difficult to tame. (Such as, another human being and how they love)
Society says… “Be sociable, why don’t you like going to parties? Or dinner parties? But why? Why won’t you drink tonight? Are you allergic? Are you religious? Do you smoke instead? Why not come out to this event, come on it will be fun. You will like it this time. I say, I know what I like, and I know what I do not like. I know what is worth pushing through, and what is highly triggering and not worth the effort. I say, that there are many ways to socialize in healthy manners, and we do not have to follow the majority when getting ‘our fix’ of social interaction. Remember the simple concept of ‘just because you like it, doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.’ Also the concept of ‘don’t apologize for being yourself’.
Society says… “You were in the military…? Woah….. (Much awkward silence) My second cousin twice removed served, do you know them? Ummmm… How was it? Did you kill anyone? Did you see anyone die? Why did you get out? OMG you get ‘free college’? So lucky…. Disability pay? Wow, so lucky…” I say, if you truly do not understand something or know what to say about a topic, you can opt for silence. Never underestimate silence, because some words lead to ‘foot in mouth’ syndrome. I say, luck is a lot rarer than we believe. The majority of times, I find my ‘luck’ has to do with years and years of silent sacrifice that most individuals never bear witness to. Also nothing is free when it comes to the military. It was either a part of our contract, or a part of getting compensated for mental and physical injuries sustained doing things that no one else wanted to sign up for.
Society says… “You published a book?! OMG, can you help me out. I want to write, how did you do it? Can you edit this for me? You don’t write like how you talk. Can I have your book? (With no intention to pay) Can you help me get noticed as a writer?” I say, what’s the good in having someone do all your work for you? More importantly, what can you actually learn from that? Accomplishments are NOT magic. They do not go ‘Poof’ and then appear. They are worked toward. They are science, they are a process. They required trial and error, followed up with new found knowledge. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Don’t rush your own process, and don’t disrespect someone else’s.
Society says… “Have you tried this diet? Have you counted your calories? Don’t get bigger. Workout more, eat less. Just practice self-control. Put effort into your appearance. Are you okay? You look tired. You look mad. You look sick. What’s wrong? Why aren’t you talking? I say, unless you know someone’s physical fitness goals and are solicited for your opinion, its best not to dictate another person’s body/ lifestyle. A lot of our outward appearances could be a reflection of an ‘invisible wound’. Eating disorders, food addictions, depression, anxiety, PTSD. Or phase of life circumstances that have forced us to switch priorities: natural disasters, chronic illness, children, relational stressor’s etc. You can ask someone if they are okay and how they are feeling, without insulting their appearance.
Society says… “You post too much. You don’t post enough. You’re showing off. Why didn’t you like my post?? Use filters. Don’t use filters. No one needs to know that much about your life. Where did you go? What are you doing lately? I say, we have confused a norm for a mandate. We have taken a cool and innovative option and turned it into an expectation. Social media is a person’s right to use or never use. Someone’s profile is their individual profile to do with whatever they please. I’m sincerely hoping social media does not create a sort of ‘control, entitlement and manipulation’ epidemic.
Bottom line? Don’t cave, we all deal with the pain and aches of people’s harsh opinions that may not be helpful. I mastered the art of filtering as much as possible and I encouraged many of my client’s to. Our mental health depends on those boundaries. When there are millions of voices coming at us on a daily basis, that can be overwhelming. It can induce guilt, shame and feelings of unworthiness. Let’s reframe, reset, clear it up. Live for you. Those that care will give constructive and helpful feedback. Everything else can be filtered away.
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