Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Guilt Trips

Guilt trips. We’ve all taken them, and most of us have sold tickets for them as well. There’s nothing like harnessing the power of guilt to really manipulate someone. I mean, you can’t force other people to live their whole lives according to what pleases you, but you can sure make them feel pretty sh*tty for pursuing their own happiness instead of yours. Life’s too short to not spend it twisting yourself into knots trying to please others, right?

Now, I expect this sort of thing from mothers, grandmothers, and older female relatives who, let’s face it, probably mean well when they give you condescending lectures about how if you keep on not being married at this rate, you’ll just never have time to birth the seventeen babies you’re so clearly intended to spawn. That’s not to say it doesn’t piss me off, just that you’ve got to see it coming. I’m sure they see handing out guilt trips as part of their time-honored role of making sure I don’t f*&k up my life.

Too late, auntie.

I don’t care who you are, I don’t give a damn if my life choices make you happy. The minute I sense someone using guilt to influence my actions, I back away. If I wanted to live my life worrying about how my decisions affect other people, I’d have kids. I did not, as you may have noticed, have kids.

Here’s a tip: When someone talks about the things she wants to do with her life, a good friend does NOT start whining about how sad, lost and lonely he’d be if she did those things. That is the opposite of supportive. Oh, so you say you’ll miss me terribly if I go backpacking across Asia? It’ll hurt you so much that you won’t be able to stand it? Has it crossed your mind that I don’t give a f*&k? What am I supposed to do, hang my head and say, “Oh well, I guess I won’t do all the things I’ve been dreaming of then. I guess I shouldn’t worry about my own happiness at all. Silly, selfish me, I’ll stop right away! How else can I be of service?”

Let’s dispense with this “You’ve got to grow up sometime” business as well. I’m a 30-year-old, college-educated homeowner. I run a copywriting business. How much more grown-up do you want me to get? Did someone tell you that “growing up” and “enjoying yourself” are mutually exclusive? Because – and you might want to sit down for this one – they’re not. You can do both at the same time. Unbelievable, I know.

If you want me to care about how happy you are, don’t try to force me to care about how happy you are. I know that sounds counterintuitive and it might not work because I am kind of a hard-ass, but it’s your best shot.