My dear readers, I hope you are going to have an amazing 2019. The best I can wish you, besides health, is this wish – be a rebel. Lit that fire in you and let it blow wildly! Set your own game rules, whatever the game is. The rebellion starts with small things. But as we all know, the small things are what can create a huge one, eventually. So, here are my suggestions. Few things that helped me to understand, that I’m only as free as I allow myself to be.
Ask myself what to do, rather than someone else
It’s irrelevant, whether we are tempted to ask about something huge – like “should I move to another country”, or a small thing like “should I cut my hair”? The true is, no one else but our inner voice can give us the right answer.
I suggest, make your own deep research to find out pros and cons of all the options, instead. It’s good to ask for the professional opinions and advice, but then the final choice must be our own.
It’s a crucial thing to trust ourselves and value our own opinion beyond everyone else’s, in personal matters.
Actually, I do ask my partner whether I should get a new haircut, but only because I know he never tells me. He just praises whatever I decide for.
I do deep research before doing any decision I consider as important (including the new haircut), so when I’m making decision, I know what result I expect and how to achieve it. There are also decisions that can turn different ways, for good or for bad, but when I’m making a decision, I’m already aware of that risk and ready to take it, so no random advice or warning of a friend can change my mind.
I’M WEARING: my sister’s dress tailored by our mom 20 years ago, beret and boots – PROMOD, belt – MANGO
No need to answer every (silly) question
When we have already learned to make independent decisions without seeking approval of the others, it’s great. Next step is, to learn how to stand for ourselves and our choices every day, face to face with the society.
Strangers, colleagues, family members and even friends can put unbearable amount of pressure on us every day, which can make someone feel uncomfortable and eventually starts certain doubts in their head. We should never allow that to happen.
Often, people ask inappropriate questions. Partly because they don’t have anything more interesting on their mind, partly, maybe, because they were asked the same questions million times before, so they started to consider it for a kind of norm. Huge and very annoying reason is, they want to put us in a certain box quickly. They assume that the answer to the certain basic question would help them better understand what kind of person we are. In some cases, those questions are signs of provocations or hidden aggression.
A friend of mine recently turned forty, but he didn’t celebrate that or even inform anyone about his anniversary. The reason was, he feels that as soon as someone knows his age, they start to act differently towards him, as their expectations about him change. They have some premises about what his goals and needs are, they are based on what most of the men his age want and need. But my friend knows that his ambitions aren’t those typical to the 40-year old man, if there really exists something like “typical”, at all…So now he generally tells people he is 35, when they ask about his age.
We are all experiencing that in a certain way. Every stage of our lives arouses a set of society expectations and it can put significant amount of pressure on us. But not only the society pressure towards how we should already be at some other place in life, is a problem. I consider as even worse the fact, that people believe they KNOW what we want and need, based only on such a thing as the age or gender. Those wrong premises about our state of mind, make us feel like it doesn’t matter who we really are. People would always make their own conclusions.
Strangers, friends of friends, colleagues or family members ask all the wrong questions in the first minutes of a conversation, after they just met us. It’s not nice, but I’ve learned how to deal with them.
It’s good to understand that we don’t have to answer tactless questions.
We can simply ignore them, change the topic, make a bit of fun of it or ask (with a smile) something like how that question is relevant for the person. At this point, I started to have fun with this discipline.
Or tell the raw truth
Other option is, to tell the raw truth, even though you know it’s going to be shocking for them and it’s going to bring up even more unnecessary questions. But at the end, it is quite liberating. Surely, one has not to be ready for that, strong enough not to care about judgmental remarks.
The main thing is, whatever we decide to answer, we should feel good about that. We shouldn’t feel like we were pushed into the corner. That’s what it means, to have a control over our own life.
Couple of months ago, I started to tell people the raw truth, when they ask me about my marriage and family plans. Because they assume that as a woman I’m dying to marry, buy a house and have couple of kids, since I’ve finished the university. Before I only answered I didn’t plan a family anytime soon, even though I already knew I don’t want to have children at all.
By saying that, I was trying to avoid long discussion and explaining why I want what I want. When the question came, from someone who just had a child or was planning one, I was even feeling rude to say that as much as I’m happy for them, it’s not on my wish list at all. Even with that answer, my experience was, that they were often quite pushy, telling me something like you don’t know what you are missing, it’s a meaning of life etc.
So, few months ago, I started to answer all the marriage/family related questions shortly “I don’t even think about this, because I don’t want to have children at all. I know that for a long time.” I’m already ready for what comes next, because I heard that so many times. I don’t explain my decision anymore, because there is nothing to explain. How would you explain why you prefer blue over orange colour? It’s just a matter of a personal preference, of one path to the other.
I’ve heard all those – you will change your mind, it’s different when it’s your own, you will regret that and who will take care of you when you get old (hysteria). The rudest question though is “what your partner thinks of it?” Someone can really assume I would be in a relationship for five years, or even for half a year, if we weren’t on the same page in such an important matter? That seems ridiculous to me. I know people who are almost as often asked why they don’t have a second child or why they want to have more than two. The list of inappropriate questions and advice is endless, really.
Another ‘favourite’ question is, when someone ask about my job, which could be all right, if they didn’t subsequently come up with another question. Something like ‘can you live from that?’ That’s a tactless question on so many levels. Anyway, I’m happy to answer this question saying that I can live with that better than ever before. This is followed by apparent discomfort of the other person and I’m enjoying it.
So, let’s just praise and support each other in decisions we take responsibly, because they are right for us and stop giving those stupid questions to each other.
But in case you get a tactless question, remember, react with a charm and take a control over the situation.
I thought, these photos we took, would be a perfect photo story for this article. My outfit – red vintage dress, black belt and beret, together with a spectacular space of Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna created the essence of an elegant rebel. The one that radiate confidence, independence and emancipation combined with my own interpretation of femininity. They represent all the difficult choices and decisions I made in recent years in order to develop my interests and passions, of which photography and storytelling is on the top of the list. I can say, in the weak moments, these photos may uplift me, remind me what I’m doing and why, what kind of person I want to be.
I hope they, together with this article, can work as your kind reminder, too. Something like a really good friend, who always sees the best of us and never doubt about our ability to decide well and courageously follow our path. Because we all possess this ability, if we decide to.
© Creative direction and editing: DANIELA RIFAI Photos: DANIELA RIFAI with a great assistance of MARTIN JESNY