I am lucky. I spent Christmas alone. No family dinner, no presents. I know. It sounds like The Grinch talking. Bitter. Maybe resentful too. But is true, I really enjoyed time alone and quiet. The city was very quiet too. Everybody was busy preparing dinner, wrapping gifts, decorating, and making cookies. I had time alone and quiet. Did I feel weird for that? I didn’t (maybe I am so totally a weirdo that I am not conscious about it).
It wasn’t easy at first. Friends asked me about what were my plans for Christmas. And when I said “nothing”, they couldn’t resist giving me all kind of solutions and words of sympathy (like “I am sorry”). And I don’t judge them. I mean is supposed to be a day of family reunion and I was doing an opposite act, and with a unconcerned attitude.
Rowing against the stream is not easy. Everyone judge you. I recognized after some minutes of self pity, that the origin of my sadness wasn’t that I was alone. I miss my family of course, but I have a real good connection and communication with them. I was missing them more in “Christmas” because I supposed to miss them more that day. There is a “tacit rule” that is there, and dictates that you supposed to be with your loved ones that day, and if not you must feel bad. Nobody talk about it but is there.
I started thinking. How many times I let that a”social standard” influence my decision? How many times I used social comparison to measure my progress in life? Maybe a lot. Maybe I am still doing it. And whoever says he is not doing it, is lying. We are gregarious, and we have “social norm chip” who tell us what is appropriate to do, where is appropriate to be in a specific stage of life. How many girls are traumatized with the idea of be a good wife, good mother, and good professional?
There are so many of these “tacit rules” but nobody wants to really talk about it. Until they do. They begin questioning the assumption behind these rules, and that is when progress start. Nowadays we are open to single professional mothers by choice. That was unthinkable decades ago.
I believe that most of the social comparison is in order to feel good about ourselves. We do it to state that we are “not doing so bad after all” and that give us a sensation of relief. Is social “conformity”.
Since I began caring more about my own life, thoughts and feelings, all these internalized thoughts about what I supposed to be doing, have lost power. At the same time, people with who I talked and apply the social comparison (for example talking about other people’s lives) start to disappear.
And is ok. I feel better now. I guess all those implicit rules, imprisoned me in subtle manners, limiting my possibilities and taking away some of my personal freedom. Next time, I hear about how great is someone is doing with his new management job, I will ask, was his dream be a manager?