What To Do When You Feel Rushed By Others
| MY NAME IS JENNIFER. I AM A 27 YEAR OLD, COLLEGE EDUCATED BLACK WOMAN. I HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR JUST OVER 2 YEARS, HAVE A GOOD JOB AND AM STEADILY GROWING IN MY CAREER. I LIKE TO SPEND MY MONEY ON VACATIONS, TITHING, CLOTHING, WATCHES, CARS AND MY DOG SEAMUS.
When I sit down in a chair in a new nail salon, the traditional intros go something like that. Almost like a dating profile. Or when I meet friends of friends, it’s a similar conversation and everyone tends to ask the same questions. What do you do? How long have you lived in Colorado? Do you lovvvvvveeeeee it here?! And then inevitably those types of questions begin…are you married? Do you have children? No?! Do you want some? When you do you think you’ll have kids? How about these home prices!? Thinking about buying a house? You’ve heard them…the infamous nosey questions that, at the surface, are innocent attempts to make conversation and get to know someone. But as I heard these same prying inquiries over and over and gleefully answered “nope, no kids", “nope, we’re renting”, “I KNOW, how can people afford to live here!?”; the more and more I internalized them. I began to stew on them and got tired of answering the same questions and receiving the same snap judgement facial expression. Around the 467th time I was asked if/when we wanted to start a family, in a moment of worn inhibition I barked “I don’t know, TERESA, when are you going to stop asking dumba** questions that are none of your business?”. Ugh. Let me tell you…I’m not proud of that one.
Feeling guilty about my outburst all over poor Teresa who was honestly trying to be nice, I had a moment of reflection. I asked myself over and over why I was so bothered, why Teresa was so annoying. The answer seems relatively simple…I was being rushed and pushed into Teresa’s expectations for what my life should look like. But as I got even more real with myself, this situation was nothing new. We all hear these things in different forms our entire lives. Do you have a job lined up after graduation? Where do you want to live? When are you getting married? What are you going to do next? And though it’s 2019 and people should honestly know better, I’m not sure the change we are demanding and screaming for is actually going to occur in enough time that we no longer have to field these types of questions. So then the self-reflection question becomes…what can I do about feeling rushed through my life by other people.
Before we go further, let’s clarify exactly what I’m talking about here. Being rushed and feeling rushed are two separate entities altogether. Being rushed is external, out of our control and often comes from other people by way of their opinions, sideways comments and intrusive questions about what they expect your life to look like at this point. It’s a series of societal parameters that we subconsciously oppose on one another. Feeling rushed on the other hand, is allowing those comments, questions and opinions to impact your decisions, thoughts and energy. Feeling rushed is a detrimental personal exercise in wanting to live up to other’s expectations of what our lives should look like. So to put it plain and simple, you can only control your controllables. And what other people say, do or think are out of your control. So this comes down to you.
I know, I know. It sounds like I am letting ignorance off the hook. And you’re right. But we as people, individuals, men and women with jobs, personal aspirations, goals, and relationships have a finite amount of energy, time and emotion to spare in this life. And what I refused to do is allow other people’s expectations of what THEY THINK my life should look like to take a single bit of that time, energy or emotion from me. How and why do they deserve that? Remember, no one can make you feel ANYTHING without your consent. Emotions are raw and uninhibited, but how you react to them and how long and what impact you allow them to have is elective. As I have been navigating through these questions a bit more often in the last 4-5 months, I have developed a few tactics that creates a barrier between their nosiness and my positivity.
Ask them WHY they are asking you about whatever that is. It forces the other person into a moment of self realization that they may be stepping into territory they shouldn’t be. But be mindful this may lead into a teaching moment. Try to approach this one with an attitude of education, not one of defense.
Give an assured, closed-convo response. If you are definitive, resolute and final about your response to the “have you found a job yet” question people typically get the hint and leave it there. A simple “I am looking.” or “No.” with an even expression will do the trick.
Shut it down altogether. Come up with your go-to phrase to abruptly end the conversation that will not immediately raise your blood pressure. Mine is “I’ll let you know when I get to it.”
As a millennial in 2019, this is my definition of protecting my peace. Because as much as I would love the dumb questions to cease, all I can control is who and what I allow to impact my energy. And I’ve made a promise to myself, it sure as hell will not be nosey Teresa.
Love Loudly. Live Loudly.