Unconventional. Non-traditional. Different.
I lead a very unconventional lifestyle, and not because I aspired for it to be this way; it just happened. I often find myself having to explain my actions because they are different from what’s “normally expected”, and it annoys the hell out of me. I know people ask me about my choices out of curiosity, but more often than not I picture myself as a rare bird being observed and studied. If you’ve ever felt this way, there’s hope.
Among Latinos, there are very clear societal norms for women. We are taught to aspire for Men, Matrimony, and Money, in that order. My whole life has been focused around ME, and MONEY…in that order. So of course I get the what’s wrong with her glances and questions, as if I’m suffering from some kind of disorder. There must be something wrong with me, right? A 32 year old woman whose never been in a serious relationship, has yet to “settle down”; wasting away eggs every year when I should have had a child by now. Well, excuse me if I missed the Stepford Wives training session.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on the fact that I’m happy living away from my family…single. It would be more acceptable if I moved away with my man; my husband. But alone? I must be a lesbian! Or even worse…a feminist! Heaven forbid! ::insert angry face emoji::
No, this is not a rant post. This purpose of this post is two-fold. I would love for a) those living an unconventional life to learn how to handle the stares, questions and assumptions, and b) for those of you who live a more traditional lifestyle, to understand where we’re coming from.
I enjoy traveling alone and doing what I love alone. I’ve learned to love time to my self. That’s not to say I don’t like hanging out with other people, just that more often than not I enjoy me time. I learned early on in life, if no one else wants to do what you want to do, you either go along with the group or go on alone. I chose to go on alone.
I refuse to stop living because I can’t find someone to live with me.
And of course I pray for the day I will be able to find someone like me, so we can share our lives together. But in the meantime, life goes on.
The best part is when people ask me about my job. What do you do for work? How is it that you can do what you want, what kind of job do you have? I first started out explaining that I had my own business. Ok great, what kind of business? An online business. Online? That’s possible? Yes, very possible. And then a million other questions…it’s very draining. So to the people I don’t know very well, I no longer spend time (and energy) explaining myself. I lie. Just kidding! Don’t lie, but if you find yourself really spending time trying to make people understand, STOP IT.
There’s a difference between explaining and justifying. When someone asks me a question, first I think of what the purpose of their question is. Generally when I talk to people, I can gauge their intentions. Sometimes people ask to be polite, strike up a conversation, or out of curiosity (or even just being nosy). For the the polite folks, I give them a very quick answer. When they ask me about my job, I tell them I work online. The end.
For the curious, I tell them about my business (I already have a little ‘elevator pitch’ prepared), and for the nosy I ask them why they want to know =)
If you find yourself being drained from over-explaining what you do, or why you do it, stop. At that point you’re forcing them to try and understand you. You don’t owe anyone anything. And not everyone will agree or understand, so let that go. Unfortunately even your loved ones may drain your energy from you explaining/justifying what you do.
You will learn, over time, to find a happy medium between shielding yourself and being defensive. Remember, you have the power. You have the power to say yes, say no, say what it is and what it is not. Use your power accordingly. Be open to new people and experiences, but let go of having everyone understand who you are and what you do. Just go on living the best unconventional life you can, little grasshopper!
Living in your truth and following your journey may mean sometimes breaking “the rules”. It may mean sometimes doing things people don’t understand or agree with. As long as you are following your heart and honoring your life experience, you will be absolutely fine. Just keep going and keep being YOU!