As much as I love being home after spending three months abroad, there are things that I hadn’t missed after being on my own in a completely different country. And one of those things is how people are trying to control my life and make decisions for me.
Since I’ve been home, I’ve had people make comments on my lifestyle and appearance, criticize the decisions that I make and have been asked so many questions about how things are going (but not in a “what’s up, let’s catch up” way), as if they are trying to control what I’ve been doing and how I’m doing it.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my parents and family and am SO thankful for everything they have done for me, but there is a point in the life of a young adult where you just want to be set free and do your own thing without having people make decisions for you or questioning how you live your life.
So after a month of people nagging me and being all up in my business, I’ve realized that it was time to set my foot down and make my voice heard.
If you are anything like me, you’re normally not the type of person to tell people to stop. You’re too nice for that. Instead, you fake-laugh at their mean jokes that are hurting you inside, you nod politely and smile, and you just let them walk all over you because that’s the way you are. But there is a point where enough is enough.
You’re in control of your life. You and no one else. You’re the one making the decisions. You’re the one in the driver’s seat.
I know it’s hard to tell people to stop. I’ve been there. (Hell, actually, I’m there right now.) But if you want at all to become a strong, independent young woman who doesn’t let anyone get in the way of her dreams, you have to speak up.
Make your voice heard. Loud and clear. Be direct, but don’t be hurtful. The people who are keeping you in a cage probably don’t even realize they are doing it.
How I’ve been suffocated
Seeing me prepare for my semester abroad was particularly hard for my dad (you can read more about my study abroad preparation here and here). Because while he wanted me to take this opportunity and make the best out of it, he didn’t want to let me go. I remember that every time I was trying to talk to him about it during the months that led up to my departure, my dad would shut down completely. He barely made any comments at all on the fact that I was leaving, and whenever I tried talking to him, he would avert his eyes. It’s as if he didn’t want to believe that I was going to leave.
This was really hard for me too. I was super excited for this opportunity, but I felt as if my dad didn’t believe in me. He wanted to keep me in this golden cage where he could watch over me, which he wouldn’t be able to do in another country.
This feeling kept growing stronger as the weeks went by. I remember being at a wedding a few weeks before I left for England, and since my departure date was so close, everyone was talking to me about it. I guess my dad eventually couldn’t take it anymore because he suddenly burst into tears. I am not sure whether he knows it or not, but I heard him talk to his mother about it. He was telling her that he didn’t want me to leave, that he didn’t know whether I could make it on my own in a completely different country halfway across the world.
That hurt me. That hurt me really bad. Why couldn’t he see that this was making me happy? Why couldn’t he see that I was strong enough to do this?
The day I left for England, my dad cried for hours before I left. Seeing him like this broke my heart, but I remembered something one of my parents’ friends told me on the night of the wedding: “Don’t think about them. Of course it’s going to be hard for them. Think about you and no one else. Board that plane and leave them behind. Don’t think about your parents until your plane is up in the air.”
Whenever you feel like people are getting in the way of your freedom, I want you to remember what my parents’ friend told me. You have to put yourself (and your happiness) first. Don’t let other people get in the way of your dreams.
You are strong enough. You are good enough. Don’t ever let anyone else tell you differently. If you believe you can do it, then you can.
My semester abroad ended up being one of the best things that could have happened to me (and my dad). I learn to rely on myself and myself only, to get out of my shell and to try new things. It taught my parents to let go and made them realize that they couldn’t control every single aspect of my life. Actually, they cannot control anything because I am the one making the decisions. People have to come to terms with the fact that I am growing up now and that it’s my life and I can do whatever the hell I want with it.
How are things now? Well, since I’ve started my internship, my dad has been sending me at least 4 texts a day asking a million questions to know how things have been. And while I love that he is so involved and that he wants me to succeed in this new chapter, I also feel like I’m suffocating. It’s like we’re back to square one and that my semester abroad never happened. (My dad hasn’t asked me a thing about my three months in England and hasn’t seen any of my photos except for the occasional ones I posted on Instagram.)
So did I do about it? I stopped giving him long responses. At first, I answered every text truthfully, with long responses that answered every single one of his questions. But I’ve learned the hard way that it just makes things worse because he will always want to know more. So I just answer things like “everything is fine” with a smiley face emoji to let him know that I am fine, but that I don’t want to answer all of his questions.
This year, I’m hoping to become even more independent and to stop letting people dictate my life. I am graduating in seven months and will be ready to start living my adult life, meaning that I will be on my own, for good.
What can you take away from my story?
So, if you are still reading this (props to you if you are!), what can you take away from all my rambling?
- If you want people to stop controlling you, you have to speak up. I know I haven’t really shown how I’ve spoken up. Or that I have spoken up at all, for that matter. I like to think that actions are louder than words. But if there’s one thing writing this post made me realize, it’s that I need to tell people when they are hurting or suffocating me. If I’m not 100% honest with them, how can they even know that they are doing something wrong? So I highly encourage you to make your voice heard. I know it’s hard because you don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings, but if you want things to change, then you have to do something about it.
- Don’t let what other people think of you affect you. I know, easier said than done. But I’ve stopped caring a long time ago what other people think about me. You think I’m fat? Well, I happen to be proud of the way I look and I’ve learned to appreciate my body and its imperfections (even if some days are harder than others). You think I’m lazy and have no idea what I’m doing with my life? Well, I happen to be very driven and have a small idea of what I want to do in the future. Just because I don’t advertise my projects to the world doesn’t mean that I don’t have any. 😉 (By the way, yes, all of those things have been said about me directly or indirectly in the recent past.) The thing is, you have to believe in yourself. If you don’t, then who will? It’ll be easier for people to walk all over you.
- You control your life. You and no one else. You get to choose what your dreams are, how you’re going to live your life, and how you see yourself. Don’t let anyone else get in the way of that. You’re not a bird that is meant to stay in a cage all of its life. You have to be set free at some point. Because that’s how life works. People grow up, they move on.
If you feel like anyone is keeping you in a golden cage, I encourage you to just go talk to them, adult to adult. Be civilized about it and let them know how the way they are treating you is stopping your growth. I’m sure they will understand and will try to let you spread your wings and fly!
Have you ever felt that way? How do you like to take control of your life?