The older I get the more I believe that we, as adults, so often run solely on fear, anxiety, and guilt. By the time we are grown the list of things that are appropriate and inappropriate are stamped on the very forefront of our thought processes and we react with those in mind instead of stopping to take into account our own actual beliefs and feelings.
Well... maybe I should only speak for myself. Maybe the rest of society is happy-go-lucky and feels completely free to behave however it wants as I struggle alone with this concern of how my own behavior affects others or is judged by the world or by a higher being. Yeah... no way.
It's seems to me that it's human nature to want to be good. Obviously that doesn't apply to the entire population but please allow me to speak in generalizations at this point, keeping within the circle of average people. In other words we can collectively agree that I'm not talking about Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson and company in my basic view of how society thinks.
So as I said, I think we all begin wanting to be good. And we learn good behaviors and practices beginning in preschool. Sharing, do unto others. We all know the golden rule and probably most of us think it's the kinder and better way to live. Yet somewhere this idea of learning to be a good person transforms into living up to other peoples beliefs and standards. It happens somewhere in our late teens and early twenties when our relationship with our parents goes from "my house, my rules" to "I want you to be happy and successful, now let me tell you what I think that means and what steps you should take to accomplish it". Of course they mean well. They're our parents and they love us. They want a better life for us. But there in lies basic problem number one. What's better and who gets to decide?
Now, let's not leave out the church. And I won't pick a specific one, deep down they are all very much the same. Regardless of whether I'm catholic and it's okay to have that glass of wine in public at dinner or I'm Southern Baptist and while I can't drink or dance, if I'm male and over 45 I can still smoke on the front steps of the sanctuary, deep down it's all the same: "Here is how you should behave and handle things, and if you can't it's okay as long as you come to us to help you fix what's wrong with you."
And even with religion I will say I think most ideologies have their hearts in the right place. But here is the point of this ramble. The rules have been set and written down and we don't often question if we actually agree. Instead we worry about what each separate entity will think if they find out we bent the rules. And it truly goes way beyond parents and church. For me it does. I'm conditioned to be concerned about what every person I know or even casually meet will think of my behavior and choices. I spend half my life scared to make decisions and the other half feeling as if I need to justify the ones I've made. And don't read this to think I'm miserable. I am beginning to believe we are all so conditioned to think this way, that it rarely occurs to us that it's unpleasant.
But then one day it does. And you realize your insides are all tied up because you cannot decide if it's more important to live the life you want to live or to live the life you are expected to. So then you question that out loud and know that you have to choose the life you want if you have any self respect at all, but you know this is bound to cause a wake that may actually wash people in your life away or change the light in which others see you.
And here, again it comes... fear, anxiety, guilt. I suppose I see them as forces to be reckoned with and overcome.