Or your teachers, or your ‘friends’ who told you not to go to that party because it isn’t really your thing. You are not your mistakes, or the things you said back when you were 14, you are not the product of the influences around you.
I’ve always felt suffocated by the fact that I couldn’t be the person I wanted to be, through fear of the other people around me not believing it. One of the most important things I’ve learned over the past couple of years is that you are not your parents. The amount of emotional breakdowns I’ve had because living at home has stressed me out so badly sometimes, is ridiculous. I constantly feel like I can’t express myself properly because I’m forever being torn down about my choices. My mum is very house proud and tries to control my space if you like – my room is my getaway, my creative space, my place to think and bask in all that I am, it’s an expression of myself. When people walk into my room I instantly want them to be able to tell what kind of person I am – from the typewriter on my desk to the pictures on the walls, from the vinyls on show to every plant on my windowsill, it’s simply a way to capture who I am. My room is beautiful, it’s not dirty or messy, it’s my creative space however, – will my mother leave it alone? No. She’s constantly rearranging things, ‘tidying things up’ that weren’t even out of place to begin with, I get home from work and things are missing from where I left them because she’s decided they look better somewhere else. She’s constantly telling me I have ‘no taste or coordination’ and that she’d never ask for my opinion on things because I have ‘no sense of style’ whatsoever, and I absolutely know that’s not true. My taste is great – décor wise and fashion wise, I always get compliments on my room whenever other people see it, I always get complimented on my fashion choices – and even if I didn’t, who cares anyway? I love them, it’s me. The way I dress and the way I make my creative space look is a personal choice, it’s the way I choose to express myself. Just because my Mum is over twice my age and doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean that her opinion on it becomes automatically true.
When our parents try to tell us things about ourselves, we instantly believe it. They created us, raised us, put a roof over our heads, stayed with us for every single day that we’ve been on this planet –but does that then mean it entitles them to tell you who you are and who you can and can’t be? Absolutely not.
If I’d have listened to my Mum when she found my journals and thought the things I was writing in them were ridiculous, I would have never been a writer. I used to write my innermost thoughts – my way of expressing myself, the sort of things that I write on this blog even. She didn’t get it. She thought they were silly, childish things I was writing down and she basically told me to stop writing it – “stop writing silly things Chloe” and then she’d roll her eyes and walk off. Did it hurt me? Yes. Did I believe it? No. I might have done, because I’d believed her about every other thing she’d ever told me about myself, but writing was different. I was a writer, it was my escape. After that I started hiding my journals anywhere I could – that was years ago and all of my journals are still hidden in places I hope she’ll never find them. I don’t have the energy to listen to people telling me that the thing I was born to do, is no more than just childish behaviour.
She also doesn’t like my music taste – I listen to people like Harry Styles, John Mayer, Childish Gambino, Frank Ocean, Birdy, etc. I turn my music off whenever she comes into the room or I turn it down if I know she’s going to walk past, because it makes me feel embarrassed. It makes me feel embarrassed to like the things I like, because I know I’ll probably get a comment about ‘what sort of rubbish I’m listening to this time’. When I tried to go vegan my whole family basically mocked me because they thought it was ridiculous and basically just used it as their new topic of conversation to get a few laughs out of people. My brother still brings it up even now – “Remember that time Chloe tried to be a vegan?” and everyone just laughs and rolls their eyes.
I’m a feminist through and through, I will fight for women’s rights and stand up for girls forever – does that mean I’m supported by my family through it? Not at all. My brother is a young teen, and he basically mocks me throughout all of it. “Don’t listen to Chloe because she’s a feminist,”, “yes well Chloe’s opinion doesn’t count because she’s obsessed with feminism” – whenever he asks me a question, my reply is instantly dismissed because my answer is automatically going to be wrong since it’s coming from a feminist point of view. He’s only joking in his eyes but to me it’s alarming and it’s even more irritating that my parents don’t call him out on it – their answer is always “Let’s not have this conversation now Chloe” and they’d rather just ignore it than risk creating an argument.
For example (my brother always brings up topics because he likes to wind me up about it) we were talking about the fact men are allowed to walk around shirtless and women aren’t, my answer was that it should be allowed because it’s not offensive and there’s no reason men should have the privilege but not women. My Mum is instantly rolling her eyes and dismissing my answer “Would you walk around with no top on Chloe? Don’t be ridiculous.” I said that just because I wouldn’t personally do it myself, doesn’t mean that I think it shouldn’t be allowed. Should I be offended by it, just because it’s not a personal choice I would make? Personally I’m not gay, does that mean I shouldn’t support gay people? Personally I wouldn’t skydive out of a plane, does that mean I think it should be banned? My Mum was insinuating the fact that breasts are sexual and therefore shouldn’t be on show, I said that breasts weren’t sexual at all and their primary purpose was for breastfeeding. Again, I was just given another set of eye rolls and the conversation was swiftly moved on because (again), it was seen as pointless to have a conversation with me because my opinion was automatically going to be wrong.
I could try a food and say I don’t like it, my Mum will then ask to try it instead and roll her eyes at me and tell me that my opinion is wrong. I will literally say that I don’t like a food yet she’ll stare at me and tell me that there’s nothing wrong with the food and I can’t possibly not like it. When I buy clothes (or anything, actually) I hide it from her because I know she’ll have a comment to make about it, since she has a comment (and unwanted opinion) on absolutely everything. So now I go out of my way to hide the things I buy, because I know she’ll make a snide comment about them. The amount of times I’ve bought an outfit and she’s laughed and asked me if I’m going somewhere in fancy dress is unreal.
It’s extremely hard to try and express yourself and be the person you really are, when everyone around you – i.e. the people you’re living with are basically turning it into one big joke and embarrassing you over it at any chance they get. I know it’s ignorance on their part and because they’re a lot older – people weren’t talking about things like this back in their day, and it’s no excuse, but I still wish that if those are the views they wish to take, they would keep them to themselves instead of trying to tear mine down, because it won’t work.
It’s only the past couple of years that I’ve really fought / voiced what I believe in and the person I want to express myself as, because when you’re 14 and your parents are telling you that you can’t put posters up in your room because they’ll mark the walls and you shouldn’t write in journals because it’s silly, you believe it. I’m 20 now and I’m a young woman, I may still live at home but I am completely my own person, and I very much understand that now.
My Mum thinks she knows me, though not the way she believes. Sometimes I’ll tell her something and she’ll look at me and say “No you wouldn’t Chloe, that’s not you.” But it is me, she just doesn’t know that part. I’m her daughter, so of course she knows me in a special way that no other person does, because the bond between mother and child is unbreakable however, she doesn’t really know me a lot outside of that. But also, she’s not supposed to. She doesn’t know what my favourite book is or my favourite song, she doesn’t know what keeps me awake at night or what my dreams are for when I get older, she doesn’t know the people I look up to and what I stand for, and that’s okay. Because I don’t know a lot about her in that sense too – how would I know what keeps her up at night or what her last thought is before she goes to bed? That’s not for me to know, because sometimes I think we’re not meant to. She is my Mum and she is my best friend, but she also doesn’t know me the way I know myself, and just like everyone else, she doesn’t get the right to tell me who I can and can’t be. I am a product of her DNA, not her opinions.
None of this is to paint my family in a bad light. They’re the most wonderful people in the world but sometimes I think we need to talk about things like this. They’re amazing and the best family I could ever ask for, they just simply don’t always understand the way I’m growing as a person and the way my mind works, and that’s okay. I was always scared of voicing my opinion on things like this because obviously, I love my parents more than anything and I’m so grateful for everything they do for me however, I wish that sometimes they’d just remember that I am my own person.
Our parents were born in a different generation to us, they have different beliefs and they can’t always get their head around current times, it’s a lack of being educated on the topics and sometimes ignorance, though I’m sure there are also people in our current generation who will turn out the same way when they themselves become parents, it’s all a learning process.
When I have children I am going to wholeheartedly encourage them to be 100% themselves, if my son wants to wear Disney Princess dresses when he gets home from school that’s wonderful, if my daughter wants a pixie cut because she doesn’t like having long hair that’s great, if she wants to play football and my son wants to learn ballet that’s fine. If they want to cover their rooms in posters of the people they look up to or they want to write and draw and sing and create and paint, I’m going to fully allow them to do that. Nothing will be stupid or embarrassing, no idea will be too big, I’m going to create an environment full of love, hope and wonder. A place of comfort and growth where they can flourish into whoever they may turn out to be. Never would I dare try and tell them who they are, they are not a product of the opinions that have been pushed upon them or the views they feel they are forced to take – they can form their own and have their own voice, and I will 100% stand behind them.
This was a post for myself because I need reassurance sometimes, but it’s also a post for you – you are not your parents. You are your own person, and if people can’t accept that, that’s their problem, not yours.
All my love,