Great Expectations (Of Others)

Isn’t it nice when people show an interest in us? In our lives?
It’s good to know they are interested in how our lives are going.

But what about when we respond with something that they didn’t anticipate?

What if we are not up to the ‘right point’ in our lives that society expects us to be?

There are so many expectations for every stage of life… So many questions… So much judgement that comes with it.

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The earliest age I remember someone commenting on one of the first stages of my life was when I was about to turn 13.
My Aunty commented on the fact I was about to enter my teens and that now my life would be all about boys and having my first period – to which my mum corrected her that I had already had my first period. Of course I was already into boys too – so I guess first test passed!

Throughout my teens, adults wanted to know all about “do you have a boyfriend?” and “What are you going to do when you leave school?”
Meanwhile peer pressure pushed us into smoking, drinking, and comparing tales of sexual experiences.
There was a constant pressure to grow up fast and constantly focus on the future and where we were going rather than being in the moment and appreciating what we had.

So what happens when you reach adulthood?

Leaving school, it is all about the next stages – Uni and/or work/careers, meeting someone etc.

So, you get a job and meet someone and the next questions are all about where you are going next – the expectation to move out, settle down, get engaged.

Onto the next ‘stage’ – save for a house, get engaged, and save for a wedding (this is the point people start helpfully telling you what they think you should do or have for your wedding – despite it being your money going on the wedding).

And if you’re not at that point? Well that’s when the questions come:
“Do you not want to get married?”
“Do you have to save for a deposit – Could you not rent so you can move out sooner?” “Are you looking for a relationship?” “Whatever happened to ‘So and so’, I thought you two would have got married”.

The expectations are always there from others. The pressures of what you should do in your life and when.
It amazes me the lack of boundaries some people have at times.

I’ve known people to have opinions on, and comment on women in their 30’s who are single. I’ve heard comments on women who have children but work full time. Comments on stay at home mothers who don’t work.

I’ve been asked multiple times if I am going to have children now I am married. I have been asked outright if I am able not able to have children.

I had a friend who fell pregnant and gradually told work colleagues, only to be asked by one of them if the pregnancy with her husband was planned?

And when someone does have a child… they can be just out of the hospital before someone is asking “Do you think you’ll have any more?”

There is always more expectation and judgement… “I think it’d be nice if you had another so he/she isn’t on their own”

And if you have more children than people expect, again, comes the judgement!

Before we know it we have bounced from life event to life event living under the expectation of others!
And if we haven’t reached any of those expected life events, then what? We failed?!
A life without those means a life not well lived?!

Each person’s life is their own. They may want to meet someone, they may not. They may want to live alone, they may not. They may want to get married, they may not. They may want to have children, they may not.
And sometimes life takes these decisions out of our hands.

Stop pushing people. Don’t judge. Expect things from your own life not from the lives of others.

Live and let live.

Positively Positive

Have you ever decided that you want to lose weight? Decided that you are going to go on a diet and you just need to decide what the start date of that diet will be?
You tell yourself every day that you need to sort your weight out, that you need to eat healthier, that you want to get into a healthy routine, that you want to shed that bit of weight you have been wanting to lose For the last couple of months? But your brain does not seem to want to co-operate?
The same brain that knows what it wants and how to get it, but the same brain that keeps putting up mental obstacles to knock your motivation and hold you back?
That is what it is like living with a mental illness and being told to ‘be happy and ‘think positive’. Our brain may know what we want, and even have ideas how to do it – but there are mental blockers In the way, holding us back, stopping us from being able to just flick a mental switch to ‘positive mode’.

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Telling someone with mental health issues to ‘think positive’ and ‘stop thinking so negatively’ is like telling a smoker to quit smoking.
We know that smoking is bad for our health, just like we know negative thoughts are bad for our mental health. The more we smoke the worse our health gets, and we know negativity breeds negativity.
We know that quitting smoking is the best thing for us and our health, just like we know thinking positively is better for mental health – but that doesn’t make it a quick fix option. The mental blockers are there preventing us from just switching that ‘positive mode’ switch.

We can try for days, weeks, months, years to get in to ‘diet mode’ and not succeed in losing that weight because of the mental blockers we keep fighting.
We can try for days, weeks, months, years to get in to ‘quitting mode’ and not succeed in quitting smoking because of the mental blockers we keep fighting.
We can try for days, weeks, months, years to get into ‘positive mode’ and not succeed in feeling positive because of the mental blockers we keep fighting.

But often, suddenly, without anything being different, other than the mental blockers seem to lift – the stars seem to align and we succeed to put ourselves into ‘diet mode’, ‘quitting mode’, ‘positive mode’. It feels like we are fighting to the same degree we were before, but the mental blockers are gone.

And for a while we start to lose weight, stop smoking, thinking positively.
But just like we can end up putting weight back on, or start smoking again, the negative thoughts can creep back in again.

It is a lifelong battle.

That is the reality of mental health issues.

That is why telling someone to “think positive” can great more of a negative effect.

Just because they aren’t being positive does not mean they are not trying to fight a hard mental battle.

The Millennial Life

How many times have we heard the negative things about ‘Millenials’?
They get such a bad reputation that even people who I know that fall under the Millennial generation try and deny they are a Millennial – simply because it is a label, and a lifestyle reputation they have no connection with.

So who are these ‘Millennials’? Generally a Millennial is classed as someone who was born between the early 1980s to the mid to late 1990s.

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We are a generation who were raised in a time where it was still ok to play in the street and ride to the park, but where we had an array of TV shows at our finger tips on Sky TV or Cable; A generation who adapted quickly from the adjustment from video cassette movies to DVD players; The first generation to perfect their text typing speeds. We grew up in a world where Beanie Babies would one day be worth something, Pogs were banned in playgrounds due to them being a ‘gambling concern’, and where we were amazed that we could teach Furbies how to speak. In our childhood, the biggest worries were knowing who loved Orange soda, memorizing the lyrics to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and remembering to feed our Tamagotchis so they didn’t die!

With the introduction of the internet and home computers becoming the norm, we were also the first generation to excel at online communication – waiting for someone to finish on the landline so that we can use the old dial-up connection to join chat rooms, log onto MSN Messenger and perfect our ‘MySpace’ layouts.

We had it all. We had everything. And we were reminded of this.
In the UK, growing up we had exams around every corner – SATS every few years, GCSEs, A-levels… We had the best opportunities and we were expected to succeed and being constantly tested to see how we performed.

We are expected to succeed academically so that we can succeed in our careers – so that we can excel and be the best we can be.
We are expected to have some kind of recognised profession co tributing to society – Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers.

Without the qualifications, will people want to employ you? Yet with the qualifications but no full time work experience, will people want to employ you?
I have seen so many examples where people have walked out of University with degrees and ended up working alongside those without qualifications – working sometimes for a higher wage for their degree and sometimes not. Those with a degree of course, still having to pay off University debts so being on the property ladder is not something they can even consider whilst in their 20’s.

The house prices these days make it terribly difficult for people to get their step on the property ladder. A study from the financial Times https://www.ft.com/content/81343d9e-187b-11e8-9e9c-25c814761640 looked at the cost of housing, while “incomes have faltered”.

There are, of course, those who are fortunate enough to have parents who can help them out financially, to help them onto their first step (for me and my husband our support came in the form of us both living with my parents while we saved – something which is becoming increasingly common in millenials in order for us to be able to afford our own homes).
There are those who are unfortunate that can afford to get onto the housing ladder due to an inheritance following a bereavement – something else which happens less due to the longer life expectancies.

We are faced with the challenges we learnt from the lessons of previous generations where pension schemes can’t always be trusted and you need hefty deposits to purchase homes.

Women are expected to work full time, have careers and still manage a household. There is still shaming from previous generations if homemade meals aren’t cooked. There is still a judgement from previous generations when it comes to hired help in the form of cleaning companies – and this is for the ones who are fortunate enough to be in a position to earn enough to have that as an option.
Men are also expected to work full time and have a career and expected to be a ‘modern man’ – contributing to household chores.

Women are stigmatized whatever choices they make it seems – if they choose a career, why are they not having children? Or why is someone else taking care of their children?
If they choose to be a stay at home mum – why are they not working to provide for their children? Why are they not setting an example for their children?

Who adds to the stigma Millenials face? Well for one, The Media. Compared to previous generations, there has never been such an overwhelming media presence – News 24/7 – News on the TV, in Newspapers, Online. The Media have to make stories to feed the demand.
Social Media also has a massive role to play – playing the comparison game on Facebook is not productive and negatively affects our mental health.
As we are the first generation facing this lifestyle, we are the ones who’s mistakes will be learnt by future generations.

More of the issues Millennials face can be found in this interesting post about ‘quarter life crisis’ https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/dec/30/me-and-my-quarter-life-crisis-a-millennial-asks-what-went-wrong

It discusses the pressures we are faced with and how it impacts us mentally and is an interesting read.

While we as Millenials are very fortunate, we are constantly referred to as the ‘snowflake’ generation – when the truth is that we are like many other generations – we have benefits previous generations before us didn’t, but there are also challenges we face that other generations were not faced with.

My view is that every generation can learn from the previous, and that in a time when we will be living longer and become a world of multiple generations, we should each respect our similarities and differences.