I grew up in conservative family and, while I love my family, I feel very disconnected. My family, like many others in my community, had an expectation that as a young woman I would go to college (preferably a religious college) then return home to marry my high school sweetheart, have children and live happily ever after.
Over the past year I have found myself distancing myself from my family because I know in my heart that I cannot follow the blueprint they have laid out for me. I want to travel, I want to meet new people and I want to discover the woman I really am, not the conservative young woman I was before going off to college. What I am afraid of is in finding myself I may lose my family.
None of us want to be disconnected from our families, be they conservative or liberal. The family structure is a beautiful thing and having a healthy family to rely on is a gift. A family with traditions and shared values is a gift that keeps on giving and, at the same time can be a gift with a high tax that comes in the form of obligation.
Conservative values often tend to come in a neatly wrapped package. One that looks at the world from a single tried and true narrative. That is neither bad nor good, it just is.
As a young woman wanting to discover herself, it can certainly feel like you must make a choice, finding your own path versus following the path set out for you by your family.
In truth, when you choose to find your own path, you give your family the opportunity to be in relationship with the purest and most authentic version of you.
The first step to becoming a young women should be finding and using your voice. This is a great time to practice this skill. Being comfortable with advocating for yourself not from a defensive perspective but instead, as an opportunity to share your thoughts and newly discovered beliefs. You certainly need to be able to communicate about the ways in which your personal exploration may differ from a path chosen by others.
The second step to becoming a strong young woman is having the courage to be loving and understanding when others may not see the world through the same lens in which you do. Let your family see in practice what you need from them.
Trust your family in their love for you. Your shared north star should be your happiness, health and well-being. The best way to show them that you are and will be OK is to fiercely find yourself and thrive.
Soul to soul,
Dear Kiantha can be read Fridays in The Spokesman-Review. To read this column in Spanish, visit www.spokesman.com. To submit a question, please email DearKiantha@gmail.com.