ARE YOU LIVING BY CHOICE OR OBLIGATION?
“Every time I change, I’m more like me than I was before” – Drew Dudley
When I was a teenager, I had to tag along with my parents wherever they went. I often ended up at people’s weddings that I had never met, house warmings and baby showers that seemed to drag on endlessly, or other family friend gatherings with people my parents knew.
As I’ve gotten older, I find that I still go through an inner conflict stemming from my teenage years when I am faced with a decision of what I want to do.
Sometimes I find that in the process of making decisions, even once I have reached a decision, I waver on it based on the reaction of others, especially those closest to me. Receiving an opinionated response or judgment, sometimes intended to guilt me into their desired course of action, makes me in turn question myself.
This pattern of behavior on the part of others is not in my control. But coming to this realization has taken many years.
Just this past month, I was invited to four weddings of our family friends. I decided that I was only going to attend two of them, and skip the other two. My choice was based on the fact that the two weddings I was attending were for people whom I knew and grew up with.
But what I didn’t expect was the amount of pressure I would receive to attend the other two weddings. Mind you, for one of these weddings, I had only met the person getting married twice ever, and the other one, I didn’t even know the couple getting married and only knew the parents on a “Hi, how’s everything?” basis.
I was told that I should conform, be less difficult, and attend these other two weddings just because I was invited. I was told that I should follow our cultural traditions, even though I didn’t agree with them (I don’t believe in the tradition of parents of the bride and groom inviting everyone they know to the wedding, despite these guests not even knowing the couple to-be-wedded).
Despite the cultural obligations and mounting external pressures, I was reminded that in this situation, I had a choice.
The choice I made was not to attend the two weddings I didn’t want to attend. This choice was based on the criteria I made for the decision, which was that I wasn’t going to attend anyone’s wedding unless I was going to be a part of the couple’s life in some way after they were married; this happens to also be the early criteria for who will be invited to my own wedding, when it will take place.
This decision to honour my own beliefs, despite the pressure to conform helps me lead my life with intention, knowing that I always have the ability to choose to do so.
By choosing to attend only two of the weddings, I was also valuing my time and ensuring I remained focused on my own goals. Sometimes the world tries to distract me from the choices I want to make for myself. I’ve found that being able to recognize when I’m acting based on choice versus obligation has helped me stay true to how I want to live my life.
How do you honour your choices and avoid acting based on obligation?