When I was just a wee babe I had no idea I was already being shaped into what is understood to be the feminine expectation, just by being called 'Sarah' I was being led into the female gender role. By the age of six I had a well established pink bedroom filled with Barbie Dolls. But when I started to want to 'play rough like the boys' I became labelled a 'tomboy'. I didn't realise how much of an impact being labelled either as 'girly' or a 'tomboy' would have on me as I grew up.
When I supposedly 'grew out' of my tomboy phase I used to spend hours drawing my dream house out with an unusual amount of detail including 2.5 kids and a dog. Then I got the Sims and I would finally get to get a glimpse of my dream house...it wasn't until I went to university I realised I could question gender boundaries and became aware of the way that we force children into choosing a life they think they want because it is right for their gender.
It made me confused. It made me confused because suddenly I had a choice (I always had one, I just never knew). These choices created so many paths for me but I felt like because I was aware of these choices, the things I'd wanted before became closed off to me. I rejected the thought of marriage and children for a long time, I didn't know what I liked anymore...because I was still being fed with gender expectations. I initially started to like 'boy stuff' just to get away from 'girl stuff'...I was STILL being fed with gender expectations.
Doing what makes you happy is something that everyone says and something I always try to tell myself. But I find it extremely hard...sometimes I don't know what makes ME happy but I still feel like I'm doing things to make society happy and keep things going in the right and expected order. I catch myself listening to political debates, reading articles and agreeing when I disagree. I pick pink over green because it is a girls colour. I shop in clothes shops for women. For months I felt unhappy because I felt that I didn't know myself anymore and trying to do what makes you happy when you don't even know, is very very hard.
I decided to reconsider everything, I considered marriage, I considered never getting married, I considered painting my room black, I considered buying a 'boyish' car... I thought if I didn't have 'girly' things I'd have to be a 'tomboy'. I had a lot of work to do. I walked for hours thinking about everything, I felt lost. Then I looked at my long-term boyfriend and felt absolutely no pressure to make a decision about marriage or any big commitment, I realised that over-thinking these things does not make me happy. So many people ask me constantly if I'm engaged yet as we've been together for five years and it makes me want to never get married because of the pressure they put on me. I need to be sure I'm doing it for the right reasons. I also feel that they are a huge financial strain that burdens you for many years post-wedding. My issue with children is resolved, I want children. I love children and the fact we can make life is incredible. I'm happy to admit that, however, I'm in no rush and finally don't think I need a perfect house, dog and husband before the child comes. I also realised that I like pink, and that may be because it was forced down my throat (not literally!) as a child but I still like it. But I like blue and green and black. And this doesn't make me a tomboy or girly, it makes me, me. I don't want to be defined solely by my gender but as an individual.
Focusing on doing what made me happy became a lot easier when I took the pressure off myself to chill out and enjoy my life. What makes me happy changes regularly because humans are ever changing. Right now I enjoy watching movies, lots of movies, I enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer...a lot. I enjoy walking, swimming, biking. I enjoy my education. I enjoy reading. I enjoy sleeping. I love spending time with my little brothers and sisters. But tomorrow I don't have to like the same things (expect the sibling thing, kinda like them all the time!)
Doing what makes you happy is harder than you think but if you realise you don't have to be who society tells you you are, it makes knowing yourself and what makes you happy a hell of a lot easier. Be you, be individual.