I became conscious of a cultural norm a couple of years ago that I’m sure you’re all familiar with, which is the culture of putting societal expectations before one’s welfare. Let’s walk through some of these scenarios, shall we?
When you were growing up, your mother very likely may have had special dishes that were displayed only when very important visitors were being expected. Breaking any of these usually attracted some type of punishment. Did you ever wonder why the family used mediocre plates and kept the best dishes for visitors? If you ever did, what were your conclusions? I’ll leave you to answer that.
Dressing anyhow at home (maybe including underwear) and spending the bulk of your earnings on ‘The slaying wardrobe” was and is still being practiced by many. Sometimes, we see memes and comedy skits on social media that address this issue. “I’m home so now I can be ugly in peace.” This is completely different from putting on good outfits that make you feel at ease in your home space.
It is generally accepted that we need not bother about our flaws or the things that need to be healthy (hair, skin, health) so long as we look good for the rest of the world. There are scenarios of women who have chronic scalp conditions that need medical attention but refuse to take a break from looking good to undergo treatment.
Another common scenario is treating your immediate family dishonourably or disrespectfully while being sugary- sweet to outsiders. I went out with my son recently and we met an acquaintance of mine who asked him, “Your mother is such an awesome person, I hope she is this nice to you children at home?” The question stunned me a bit, but I was relieved when my son confidently told her that I’m also awesome at home. How we treat the people closest to us is a reflection of the value we have put on them, even though familiarity can and does make us forget this
Investing in the public image of your marriage rather than its health behind closed doors and sometimes enduring dreadful abuse just to look good is another way in which we put societal expectations before our welfare. I mean, everyone looks a good love story and the devotedness of a couple to each other. What happens in private is what is most important in the relationship. What shall it profit a married couple to put up happy appearances in public while the marriage is on the rocks?
We generally have become conditioned that so long as you meet societal expectations, your own welfare doesn’t matter; because what society thinks is more important than you; because what people say is more important than your well-being.
So dual personalities and lifestyles are created:
-The one behind closed doors.
-The one in the glare of society.
But, what if we became real and consistent, and decided that we should seek first our well-being before meeting the expectations of society?
That for me, is the most important gift we can give to ourselves, showing kindness to and considering the well-being of ourselves and loved ones in our private spaces, because we matter!
How shall we love others when we don’t love our own selves?
How can we give what we don’t have?
We must break free from that mindset of pleasing everyone except ourselves.
We also matter.
Go and buy some new plates, and cook those special dishes that you reserve for your VIPs. You are VIP too.
Shop for new underwear.
Get your hair and skin sorted out (those conditions you don’t want to attend to but hide under very expensive clothes and hair because no one sees them.)
Just be absolutely kind to yourself and to your loved ones. Treat your family like the darlings they are. Communicate frequently to them how much you value them through your words and deeds. When we are kind to our family, we do the society a favour by releasing kind people into it.
Be brilliant for the best one-man audience in the world: You!
As you do, loving others will become effortless.