I just realised that my parents have never forced me into any life choices save one. I’m not quite sure if that was a good or bad thing. The last time they did it was in my last year of primary school, where they pushed me to top the school; after that I made all my own life choices.
I always thought that it might be the fact that I wilfully chose to have things that way, but in retrospect it could have signalled a lack of communication — they probably had no inkling of what I was doing or what I wanted to do, and in some ways, neither did I. If I rebelled I think I rebelled in quite a large, if silent, way.
Because of this I also felt like I never relied on them or got support from them for my life choices. I felt I didn’t need to, but equally, I felt lonely in my choices, and accepted that I had to face both choices and consequences alone.
It didn’t help that they were not particularly familiar with the options, being of relatively modest education, and me not telling them anything made that worse. How could parents who didn’t understand the options guide me through them? If anything it would have to be guidance about life, but that too, they seldom provided, perhaps partly because they didn’t know how to put across their points, and partly because I was quite a smart and wilful young teenager who simply didn’t want to listen.
So I guess what happened was total freedom of choice on my part, which I always trumpeted as some kind of personal achievement.
Now though, I see that guidance of the right sort (and not prescriptions) might have saved me plenty of trouble. It might also have made me feel supported and not so alone in all these things I’ve been doing, something I still carry with me now.
I feel afraid to ask for help and share with people the things I am doing, because it just feels so alien to me. When I hit rock bottom last year, some close friends told me that I never told them what was going on with me, and they had no clue what was going on.
I’d attribute some of that to the drifting apart that happens when we’re busy with life, but equally I realised that it was true. I seldom volunteer anything about myself or what I do; and if I don’t have to dig very far to know the reason — I’m afraid that someone will think less of me, because most of the time, I either feel like I’d no idea what the fuck things are going, or that there’s so much uncertainty I don’t know where to begin.
Wouldn’t that make me look bad? How could I not know what I was doing, or where I was going? Isn’t everyone all set and on their road to success? Where would someone like me fit in?
All this has really made me more lonely than I care to admit, but I’m not entirely sure where to begin opening up either. If anyone asks me about what’s going on, I’d probably blurt random words or something, and so I avoid it except for the few times when I can muster up something coherent (this has been rare).
The effect of this is that this eats away at any certainty I have built up in private. The truth is much of who we make ourselves out to be is the person who present to others on a regular basis. It’s a bit like practicing who we are, so our brains can confirm it through tangible experience. Because I do it so little I have a tendency to fall towards uncertainty.
I’ve tested this numerous times and found that just by telling people what’s going on it gives me some feeling of assurance that what I was thinking is actually real. This is especially true for paths which might take time to bear fruit.
So what to do? Talk more, share more. Share the uncertainty. They say that support is important, and I never realised how little of that I sought till now. It’s time to change.