Every time there’s a new surge of cultural and social change and/or progressiveness, we tend to sweep everyone up in the wave and forget that there are some people who are not holding on to certain ideas because of society, but because that’s who they are on the inside.
This happened with the first wave of feminism when we neglected to consider some women WANT to stay home and be Moms, not because of societal pressure but because it’s their CHOICE. Even now I hear women say about themselves, “Most feminists wouldn’t think I’m a feminist because I stayed at home with my kids.” I always respond, “No! That’s the most radically feminist thing you can do because you CHOSE it even though you feel like culture is pressuring you in the other direction!”
I have also seen it in various conversations about sexual revolution and sexual freedom in our country. We hear things like, “The secret to happiness and a long marriage is sex!” all the time. Or we take these, “This society is so prudish about sex we are repressing natural and beautiful urges!” stances in trying to encourage sex positive outlooks. But sometimes we forget to consider that some people just DO NOT LIKE SEX. We’re hearing more about “asexuality” now but it’s still not mainstream, we still haven’t allowed that to some people…orgasms are just not desired. Not because of repression or a backwards sexual culture, but simply because that’s who they are.
The body-positivity movement is trying to navigate this right now. While we’re all trying to love non-perfect bodies, are we unintentionally shaming people who simply exercise and calorie count because they LIKE to? Can we allow for women who want a 6-pack and no muffin tops without rolling our eyes and acting like they’re naive victims of twisted media and beauty industries? Some people want to look at the “fit-spiriation” memes because it motivates them to work harder, not because it makes them feel bad about themselves. I’m watching this unfold and trying to work my own head around it so that I don’t make women who work hard to lose weight feel bad simply because I’ve given that up.
I’ve been thinking about these examples a lot lately as I meditate on this moment in my sphere of culture where people are starting to wake up to the idea that we’ve been associating productivity and busyness with WORTH for far too long. We are slowly starting to push back against this feeling that – unless we are overworked somehow we are not doing it right. You’re starting to see more memes reminding us that productivity is not how we measure personal value and that maybe it’s okay to just NOT BE BUSY. That constantly talking about how busy or tired we are is maybe a FLAW and not a sign of success.
I’m loving this because I fell into this trend for awhile, feeling like my value was only measured by how busy I stayed so I am loving that we are all now pushing back on these ideas and trying to reprogram our brains.
But what about the people who are just HAPPIER being busy? Do they exist? We all have that one friend or family member whose day is packed full from beginning to end and yet they never complain about being tired or exhausted. Like…they THRIVE on being busy and productive, not because they feel it gives them worth but because they…like it? I mean, those people do exist, right? It always amazes me when I find out some people in my life watch TV. “When do you do it? You are always working and taking kids to practices and games and reading books and traveling? WHEN DO YOU WATCH TV?”
I see memes like this and I scream, “YES!!!” because for so long I thought if I wasn’t “productive” then I was not worthy. But…I mean, there are people who are busy and active every second of every day because that’s who they are, right? Do we need to find ways to make sure we’re not shaming people who simply don’t want/need to be calm and restful and unproductive?
I’m honestly not sure. I see people who are always busy and I want to think it’s societal and cultural pressure because it makes me feel bad about myself that I love just lazily scrolling through Schitt’s Creek GIFs for an hour. I like to convince myself that deep down no one wants to be busy all the time, but I’m trying to shake that thought out and say, “No, some people are certain ways – like asexual – not because of pressure from society but because THAT IS JUST WHO THEY ARE.”