I attended a concert the other week, and during the warm-up act everyone was told to stand, clap, raise their hands, and have a grand ol’ time. Whilst the people around me clearly wanted to stand—they were shuffling in their seats as if to rise—all of them looked around, saw others weren’t standing, and remained seated. Which is fine, not everyone is able to stand, but they also weren’t clapping or raising their hands or singing along, because they were too busy looking around and checking no-one thought they looked silly.
Which really got to me.
I’ve struggled with what others think of me myself, and still do, it’s natural. When it gets in the way of you enjoying yourself, though, you need to take a stand. Literally, in my case. Once I’d asked permission from the people behind (because I’m not a dick. I actually asked if they were going to stand too and they said yes…but then didn’t. So I hope they enjoyed seeing my dancing bum, I guess?) I stood amongst the group of grumps and danced extra hard to make a point. Also, I was really into the music and I’d paid a lot of damn money to be there. Money that, as I’ve mentioned previously, is not plentiful in my life. I knew it was a bit of a test for me. To stop worrying and let go. Did I feel silly? Hell yes. Did I enjoy myself a lot more than the others? Also yes. (For anyone worrying I was blocking people’s view, I moved later to be in the aisle, so no-one’s view was blocked. I could sense those comments on the horizon…)
I’ve spoken before about the dreaded checklist and all the boxes we’re supposed to tick by a certain age. Also, of how much I abso-bloody-lutely HATE the checklist. I was such a sucker for it in my childhood and all the way through adolescence. I really did think I’d be married by 25 with kids before 30. LOL. Now, I kind of hate kids… There are a few tiny legends I’ll make an exception for. But the checklist as a whole can get in the bin.
Who are we ticking these boxes for exactly?
We’re all checking them because it’s what we think everyone else expects us to do and we don’t want to be perceived as failing. But who is ‘everyone else’ and why do we give a shit what they think about our lives?
I work in customer service and am in my twenties so I’m asked a lot about what I’m doing with my life—whether I’m a student, what I’m planning for my future, why I’m still working in a shop, why I haven’t got a proper job yet, etc. I’ve even started getting asked if I have kids, and why the hell not (because nothing makes you want kids more than seeing dozens of them screaming the place down every day because they can’t get the exact ice cream they want, am I right?). Frankly, I’m sick of it. Sick of the entire damn expectation strangers have for other stranger’s lives. (Yes, speaking to you, man who explained blogging to me AFTER I told him my MA is in Creative Writing, because he’s an expert having listened to an audiobook the other week. He suggested I could give advice to twenty-somethings. How funny, because my tiny woman brain would never have thought of that myself… My customer service restraint must be that of a pasty bagging saint. I didn’t tell him to f*ck off once).
At the end of the day, we’re all individuals, and shouldn’t have to fit the same damn box. We shouldn’t be sitting in a concert crowd worried about having any fun in case the rest of the crowd of people you’ll never meet again think you look like you’re having too much fun. When our lives draw to a close all we are is a collection of memories.
So let’s just concentrate on making them fabulous, yeah?
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