Remember when you were a kid and you would get up in the morning and think, “I should clean my room today.” You’d get started – pick out your music and go downstairs to get a trash bag, or windex, or the vacuum – and then your parents would say something like, “You should really pick up your room. ” And suddenly everything would change. Your plan would suddenly become a chore. And that idea that you came up with would stop being a good one. You still get your room clean – but it somehow stops feeling good.
I think it’s a metaphor for your twenties: a decade of brilliant ideas colored by expectations.
Now I’m not talking about out-right rebellion here. This is not the angst of a teen who will purposely do the opposite of what they were told just to be difficult. This is you wanting to decide what to do with your life, like clean your room, and then feeling differently about it because of what you’re ‘supposed’ to do.
Think of it like this: when I was a teacher I used to give students the “illusion of choice.” They would be able to pick whether they wanted their book report to be an Alphabet Book or a Presentation – but in the end they’d still be turning in that book report. They could either make a website or create a newspaper – either way they’d still be writing four articles. They had some control in their learning but ultimately I’m the one dictating what they need to do.
In our twenties we are able to pick whether we want our relationship status to be married or single – but in the end we’ll still fight stereotypes of that status. We can either have children or a career – but either way we are still told we’re sacrificing too much. We have control in our life but ultimately expectations begin coloring what we do.
And that, my friends, is bullshit.
I need to learn to not let this illusion of choice phenomenon become reality outside of the classroom. Expectations are not going to be a teacher dictating my life, and choices will not be created in either/or format. I need to learn how to enjoy cleaning my room despite of being told to. Because, in the end, I need to know that the choices I made were mine. And if they match expectations, great! But if they don’t – then I guess the expectations need to be changed.
So if I figure out how to do that – I’ll let you know – until then… I guess we’ll just have to enjoy that process.