We are born, we live, we die. Is that the script? What about all that’s in between, you ask? Is there a script? Before you say no too quickly, consider this.
We are born. We are identified as male or female. We are dressed in pink or blue. We are given dolls or trucks to play with very often at the exclusion of the other. And letting a brother play with his sister’s toys doesn’t count. When was the last time you brought a Tonka truck as a gift to a little girl’s birthday party? Or a Barbie doll to a little boy’s birthday party? See. We’ve been trained.
We are being indoctrinated from the minute we’re born. If you’re born a boy, you like this, do this, act like this. If you’re a girl, you say this, do this and don’t do that. Sit like a lady.
Then we are forced to go to school. There are rules. Even the parents have rules to follow. If they don’t, there are consequences. They could be as simple as an eyebrow raise. But you are being told you did bad. You did something wrong. And it’s enough to make you stop.
By the time we’ve made it through Kindergarten and then another 12 years of school, we’ve learned a lot of rules. One of the biggest parts of that is what we’re supposed to do for the next 12 years. Go to school. Get good grades. (More of the same). Graduate. Find a job. Move up the ladder. Make money. Buy stuff. Get a nice car, buy a house, get all the latest gadgets. Get a boyfriend or girlfriend. Turn them into a husband or wife. (Ladies, don’t ask. That’s his job). Have a wedding. White dress. Then come the kids. And then you indoctrinate them to take your place in this world.
There are some allowable deviations from this. You could get a job right out of high school instead of going to college (or a trade school). Depending on your family background, no one would question that. You could start a business. All that really matters is that you’re making money. And you just have to do a little better than your parents did to be considered a “success.”
Still not convinced?
If there’s no script, then why do we try to make sense of the people who don’t follow it? The people who don’t get married. The people who don’t have kids. The ones who quit a “good job” to start a crazy business. The woman who divorces her perfect husband. The mother who gives the father primary custody. The people who voluntarily smudge their perfect, enviable life.
Just talk to a woman approaching 40 who isn’t married and doesn’t have a boyfriend. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I find someone? I’m never going to find a husband. I’m going to spend my life alone. I’m going to be an old maid.
Then eavesdrop on the people talking about her. What’s wrong with her? Why is she scaring the men away? Why can’t she keep a man? How can she still be single? She must be doing something wrong.
Need an example? Jennifer Aniston.
These judgments are life’s way of trying to auto-correct the people who aren’t following the script. Like a GPS when you’ve turned down the wrong street. It will automatically recalculate the route.
I am a successful lawyer. Very often when I talk to someone for the first time about leaving the law I get the cockeyed confused dog look. But why would you want to do that? You’re a lawyer man! You made it!
Made it where?
The only acceptable deviation from the script is if it ultimately makes you rich. If it made you rich, then you’re brilliant. If you took a risk and you’re still broke, you’re an idiot. A cautionary tale.
Please prove to me that I am wrong. I might be able to be convinced.