There's a delicate balance in life between trying to fit in and trying to be yourself. You want to stick to your gut and do what's best for you and your family, but you also don't want to be stressed out by other's reactions, or taunted for your choices, either.
Meeting your own demands= stress because others don't understand. Meet their demands= stress because you're not being true to yourself and what you feel is best. Either way= stress.
Just what kinds of things are we talking about?
- To stay in a relationship or to end it. You may want to stay, and others may feel you should leave (or vice versa).
- To go church or not. You may be the only one in your family who chooses to go to church, and they may want you to skip church all of the time to join them in fun outings.
- To breastfeed until your child is one or two, or to wean after a few months. You may want to breastfeed longer, but others give you funny looks as you whip out the blanket at the park when your child is hungry.
- To work or not. Calculating day care costs may show that it's more expensive to work than to stay home, even though funds are tight and it would greatly help to have extra cash flow.
- To put your kids in preschool or not.
- To home school your kids or to send them to private school or to public school.
- To move away from your family to a place you've always wanted to live, or to stay close by because of aging family members.
- To major in something you're passionate about or to choose to study something where the jobs are plentiful after graduation.
So even though it seems simple enough to do what's best for you, breaking the mold can be hard, really hard, to do.
Here are some tips to help you stick to your boundaries and decisions:
- Tell people on a need to know basis. While secrets can be harmful to relationships, privacy is different than secrets. Keep decisions that don't involve others to yourself.
- Don't engage in the debate if it's too much. Most people don't change their mind in one sitting (if they do at all). It either takes multiple exposures to a different idea or an event in their own life to see things differently. Sticking to your guns may very well be that thing that does change their mind.
- Be matter of fact about your decision and move on. Don't allow too much time (if any) for discussion. Change the topic. Walk away. Offer them food (it's hard to talk while you're chewing, LOL). Announcing your decision in a questioning tone opens the door for feedback. So give your decision in a solid, confident tone.
- Offer an alternative or compromise (if appropriate). For instance, if you're going to be in church while your family is out on the lake, offer to meet them later that afternoon for s'mores around the fire. Or, if all of your friends home school and they are taking their kids on a fun trip while your children are in school, invite them to a fun place later in the afternoon or on Saturday. Join them on a teacher workday.
People make decisions and have opinions based on their experiences. Two people can both ride the same roller coaster and have totally different views. One may have motion sickness and never want to see a roller coaster again. The other may have had the time of their life and is rushing in line to ride it again. But bring up the roller coaster at the dinner table and both are going to share two totally different experiences. Those experiences make people have certain viewpoints, make certain decisions, or even vote in elections the way they do.
Remember: You are the expert on you and what's best for you. People disagree with experts all of the time. So take it as a sign that you're doing something right! Also, listening to your gut will help decrease stress and anxiety! Two major pluses!