05 August, 2019
Suppressing our personalities
One of the struggles of our No Kidding lives is feeling that we have a place for us in society. The simple fact that we do not have children means we are unusual enough to the majority of the population. As a result we often struggle to be seen as full, mature adults in society, to be taken seriously, and for our voices to be accepted and heard.
I have seen many of my No Kidding blogging peers choose their words carefully. We talk about how to carefully respond to harsh and unthinking comments, about how to change incorrect and unfair stereotypes, and how to present ourselves. We take care - most of us - to try not to alienate parents, and we offer praise to those parents who make the effort to understand us. We are careful not to be called out as selfish, as a group who "just doesn't understand," or as bitter and emotional. Even in real life, I know that I make an effort to be attentive to children, to avoid being judgemental, and to try to avoid any perception that I might lack maternal instincts. Though even those amongst us who are the most careful are subject to comments such as these. We can't win.
Recently, I saw a conversation between No Kidding women about a particular portrayal of our group, showing us as eccentric, or at the least, nonconforming. There were two schools of thought. One was concerned that such representations might just confirm the stereotypes that we are eccentric, a bit weird, not quite normal, serious or even grown up. When we are trying so hard to be accepted and to be heard, this could be damaging. The other school of thought was that we should embrace our freedoms, be adventurous, and follow our truths. Who cares if we are conforming or non-conforming? I probably sit somewhere between the two groups, or perhaps move in and out of both groups.
It raised a question for me. In the effort to seem "normal" and not to be steretyped as "wackadoodle" (to quote one of the women), is there a risk that we suppress our ambitions, creativity, and desires? (Above and beyond the general levels of self-control exercised by everyone to be part of a decent, working society.) Do we quash our instincts and desires, our personalities, our true characters? Do we hesitate to show our creativity? Do we hide to avoid criticsm? Have we honed our skills for self-protection so well that we use them to our detriment? Do we refrain from truly using the freedom that our No Kidding lives could give us?
I think I do. And writing those four words now surprising to me. I didn't expect to write them. Because whilst I've never been a free-spirit, I've also avoided conforming to traditions. I've enthusiastically embraced many aspects of my No Kidding life, not least the free time, and the ability to explore the world and my own psyche. But when I look at some aspects of my life, I know full well that I try hard to show that I'm just as responsible and nurturing and understanding as my peers who are parents, to avoid criticism that I "don't understand because I don't have children" or that I could be labelled as a "typical, selfish, childless woman." Even though I've always utterly rejected this label, I'm obviously still affected by it.
So I'm not quite sure what this new realisation means, exactly what desires and instincts I've suppressed - or perhaps I'm not ready to actually talk about them just yet. I'm pretty sure there are issues around risk-taking, but don't have time to explore that in this post if I'm going to get it posted today. So I'm going to give it some more thought.
Do you think that, in trying to be taken seriously as a No Kidding person, you suppress your true instincts and desires to your detriment?