We all have an idea of what a life well-lived means. For some it is achieving fame, money, for others a family or a house by the lake (and obviously there are many more life wishes you can have apart from these). Usually, we deem our way of approaching life to be superior to others and, if we are not careful, we tend to impose our lifestyle on others - like a sect trying to convert another lamb for the flock.
Vegans think everyone should be vegan, people who have dogs think life without them is without joy, people who travel a lot think others are missing out, so do parents about people who decided against having children. We seem to declare our life story as the only valid one, convinced others would fare much better if they simply followed our path.
Now, many would argue this is very ignorant behaviour, and I am inclined to agree, yet I daresay it is a common human trait all of us share, some more than others. Childhood, I believe, is a major factor as to why we believe what we do is superior and I at this point, with my limited life experience, I am inclined to conclude that we are irrevocably and invariably shaped by our childhoods.
Wow, mind-blowing, Angie - only, of course, it isn't. It all makes perfect sense. People seem to have had a childhood they don't want to relive and do what they perceive their parents got wrong; or, you repeat what your parents did, probably not literally, but in a general approach to life. My mother, for instance, grew up in a rural village where people had a more than distinct idea of how life had to be lived. Work hard all your life - regardless of whether you are fulfilled by what you do, buy or build a house, have children and save your money until you retire. I am not going to call my parents unreasonable or irresponsible, because they're not, but they have never owned a house or put money aside - which, for my grandpa, is irresponsible, I guess.
I also don't seek to criticise any life of style and claim my parents' is better than my grandparents, it is simply that I shared a very interesting conversation with my grandfather recently, which is vividly ingrained into my brain. My grandfather, always meaning the best, always repeats the same few things whenever I go to visit.
When will you get a job? He doesn't understand the idea of freelance writing.
You need a proper job.
You need money to buy a house.
You need a pension.
I don't want to be rude about your parents, but they should have bought a house a long time ago.
This is the entire range of conversation we usually share. And I get it. He grew up in the post-war era when food on the table was not just given and life was hard. The comfortable lifestyle he enjoys came from hard work, and I see he wants me - and my mum - to have the same. So, when I was there, he sat me down and said, "You know, when I was nineteen, I made a plan. I drew a straight line and said this is what I am going to do. I will follow this straight line and never get deterred from it. I will work in my job, I will have my house paid off by the age of 50, I will have enough for my pension."
Now, this all seems pretty reasonable. Yet, it could not be farther from the idea of life I have, or my parents. Life for us has always been about self-fulfilment, about taking a risk, about starting your own business - and it is no coincidence that my two sisters run a successful horse school, my mother owns a school and I have forsaken pensions and safety to pursue a freelance writing career. Needless to say, my grandfather neither understands, nor supports these decisions. In his mindset, this is the wrong way to live life, whereas for me the "wrong" way to live life is doing your training at 16, getting a job and working until you are dead, no reflection, no fulfilment on the way, building a house and having babies by the age of 24 and being settled into a life by 25.
I am more than happy for anyone who wants this and is happy, but I would die, were I forced to pursue this path, so I have made the decision to try and not judge anyone for their life choices - as long as they are harmless to others. I used to think, How can people not travel? They will all benefit from it, We should send them all away from a year after school. And as much as I am convinced this is still good - because I did it, it doesn't mean everyone else wants to spend time in a culture abroad where they have to battle everyday life in a foreign language - something I absolutely love. My grandfather would feel petrified to live somewhere else, nay, travel to a far distant country. And I guess I could be disgruntled for him not being as forgiving about my life choices as I am about his; yet, I have to remind myself then that after the war, the chaos and the upheaval he had to go through, a straight line must have looked very appealing.
I reckon it is a generation issue. I am a Millennial, I am told, the generation which breaks out, the ones who want more than survival, who seek self-fulfilment - or so, I am told as well. I don't know about the others, but I guess in times of lasting peace (knock on wood), it is easier to venture out of the havens of safety and seek adventures on the big blue sea.
Writer. Editor. Blogger. YouTuber. Freelancer. Traveller. English fanatic.