Frozen

At my brother’s request, I recently watched the new Disney movie, Frozen, with him.  It was a good movie, but there were some really sad scenes in it that left me pondering the question: what if being yourself meant disappointing everyone you ever cared about?

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know

This isn’t a new idea. It’s been explored in other movies.  But it’s something many of us struggle with.

I think most of us have at some point or another had our parents say “why can’t you be more like ____?”  I know I have.

I had a classmate who was very focused on what she wanted to do in her future and was very proactive about doing the things she needed to do to get where she wanted.  My parents saw her at a university fair approaching and talking to a university representative and later said to me “Why can’t you be more proactive like S?  She’s not a nice person, but she knows what she wants and she’s aggressive enough to go out there and get it.  If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to be aggressive and manipulative.”  (For the record, S is actually a very nice girl, this is just my parents’ impression of her from that one event).  Up to that point (and to some extent even now), I had been proud of the fact that I was what I considered to be a nice person.  I was proud of not being manipulative, of not being too pushy, of not only being focused on what I wanted to achieve without regard for other people.  After a lengthy discussion with my parents, I realised that they didn’t appreciate those qualities.  Because of their experiences in life, they both believe that in order for me to succeed, I need to stop trying to be a nice person and start to be more aggressive and more ruthless in going out and getting what I want.  While I can see where they’re coming from, I realise that that isn’t who I am.

That was just one example of my parents wanting me to change to be someone I’m not, and more importantly, someone I’ve made a conscious decision not to be.  And honestly, the pressure to be a certain way isn’t really just coming from my parents.  In many ways, my teachers, my peers and some of the people I look up to have wanted me to change in a way that ran counter to my values, beliefs and character.

Now, I often wonder whether I should give in and change or whether I should remain true to myself.  I wonder what if being myself means disappointing everyone I have ever cared about?

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Letting Go

One of the hardest things in life is letting go.  It’s something we all need to do at some point, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

A friend of mine recently entered into a relationship that is already showing signs of being abusive.  I and several others have pointed out our concerns to him, and although he agrees that the relationship is problematic, he doesn’t want to leave because he still loves his significant other very much.

Although I’ve never been in a relationship, much less an abusive one, I have faced situations in which even though I knew it was best for me to let go, I didn’t want to.

“Don’t give up”, “you only fail when you stop trying”, “nothing is impossible”… Our society constantly tells us that nothing is beyond us and that no matter what the situation we’re facing, we should never back down, never let go.  It’s easy to see the appeal of the idea.  And indeed if we gave up as soon as things got hard, we’d never go anywhere.  However, it’s equally important to know when it is a good idea to give up, and it happens sometimes.

It’s not so very hard to let go of something we know to be impossible.  What’s hard is letting go of the very small chance that you might have succeeded.  Turning your back on something that is actually possible is hard to justify to yourself, but it’s something we have to learn to do.

It amazes me just how much I’m willing to sacrifice for the smallest chance at something that’s really important to me.  My happiness, self esteem etc.  All for the tiniest glimmer of hope that I might have succeeded.  At some point, I think I really need to learn that if just trying for something that isn’t likely is going to cause me to lose a lot of important things, I need to let go.  But it still feels too much like giving up.  But the hardest thing to learn, and one of the most important, is when to let go of an achievable dream

I’m seventeen, and that means I’m having to decide on what I want to do for the rest of my life.  On one hand, I have my dreams of being a veterinarian, dreams of spending the rest of my life doing something I love and am passionate about.  On the other hand, I have to look at the very real possibility of not being able to find a job once I graduate, and the near-certainty that in this profession, I will not earn as much money as I would being, say, a doctor, which is what my parents want me to do.  I think I have a fair chance at getting into veterinary school, and to give that all up for money and job security seems ridiculous, but even so, it’s hard to say that following my dreams is going to be the best thing for me.  Situations like this are the worst, because although letting go might be wise, the self-doubts, the “what-ifs” will continue to haunt me.

In the end, it all comes down to one big question.  When do we let go and how?  And I don’t have any answers.