of yardsticks and conformity

There’s a very interesting discussion going on over at IHM’s about how the older people in our society need to learn to find life of their own lives instead of seeing happiness in their children’s lives.

Apparently there are many old people who feel like they would be judged if they did, indeed, find happiness in their own lives.

This discussion started, interestingly enough, when a young bride talked about how she felt oppressed as a daughter-in-law. She was tired of giving in to countless demands of gifts from her in laws, which literally amounts to demands for dowry, as pointed out by one of the ladies in the audience. She was afraid of being judged if she didn’t comply.

This is interesting, because I see literally everyone, young or old or male or female, complaining about how they are being judged. The only ones who are not complaining (such as me) are being complained about (my mom thinks I’m too modern and too selfish, last week someone told me they think my mom-in-law is too benevolent and I’m taking advantage of her).

I think that the main problem is that as a society, we want people to live for others and value ‘sacrifice’ above all else.

It’s all about expectations and conformity, you know. All our lives we carry around an image of who people should be, and we use that image as a yardstick to measure everyone around us. We turn judgmental, expecting impossible perfection in everyone, including ourselves. Anyone who does not conform is the black sheep and must be “too modern” for their own good. And because we realize that the same yardstick is also being used to judge us, we conform even though it makes us bitter as people.

Now because people keep conforming to these “standards”, that image in our heads becomes etched in stone. And there we go, round and round in a circle, expecting and judging and conforming and being resentful.

All we need to do is break out of that circle; none of us was born to fulfill other people’s expectations, and these “standards” change with time. And that is why there’s no point to all this sacrifice.

We must stop, old and young alike.

What do you think?