Societies have set specific values and standards that apply to everybody. Any deviation from the established standards may be considered as a violation of the cultural law and, therefore, met with punishment in terms of ridicule or scorn. For example, some societies have set standards on the kind of dress women wear or behave after attaining a certain age. If a woman goes against these standards, she is considered a disgrace to the society. Sometimes the pressure to adhere these norms is so much that one may experience a lot of stress coping with it. Eventually, a woman may be forced to change behavior or appearance not because they believe in the set societal standards, but to avoid pressure associated with the persons who go against the general expectations of a particular society.
In my society (Chinese society), there are a lot of expectations for people of different ages; children, young adults, young women and men among other age groups. For the case of young adults, society expects that one needs to achieve certain objectives in life depending on the age she has attained. Young men are supposed to marry after reaching a certain age, and young women are expected to be married upon reaching the age which society considers fit for starting a family. These expectations of the Chinese society often result from the centuries-old belief that children are an important aspect of the family and, therefore, young people need to be married as soon as they attain the required age to live with this expectation. In other words, tradition has a huge influence on the decisions of many young people in regards to looking for a partner as a way of preparing for marriage.
Although changes have happened to the Chinese society over the recent decades on expectations about the age of marriage, much of the expectation on women has not changed. Women are expected to start dating and preparing for marriage most usually before they attain the age of 30.When a woman lives beyond the mentioned age and she is still single, members of this society label them with all sorts of names as a way of expressing their dislike for the behavior of being single.
The cultural values and norms discussed in the previous paragraph are exactly the reason as to why I once changed my behavior so that I can fit in the expectations of some of my friends, relatives, parents and society as a whole. From a personal perspective, the experience of being single has been one which my society expects me to be married at a certain age. The age bracket of between 20-30 is considered in my society as the ideal age for marriage. So, in my early twenties I got the impression that people wanted me to start dating and later settle down as a family person. Contrary this expectation, I viewed myself as a woman who intends to invest in her career before taking up the responsibilities of a family. I wanted to break away from the norm that getting married is more of a priority than advancing personal ambitions relating to education. All I wanted is to plan for my life and not somebody else plan for me. Besides, I wanted the freedom to decide for my future as well as live my own life without any restrictions. In any case, there were millions of women working in Chinese cities who were very successful, yet they are not in a hurry to get married because they considered marriage as one of the things they would do in life and not one of the things society expects them to do in life.
The determination of pursuing my career helped me overcome many challenges associated with the societal expectations of getting married at the required age.' However, things got worse as time progressed. As I have indicated in the previous paragraph, these expectations come with a lot of pressure. For one, a good number of my friends were getting married or had got married. So, people kept asking me to look for a man and get married because my time was expiring.' By the way, girls who delay marrying are referred to as leftovers.' This word means that a woman becomes unfit for marriage if her age goes beyond what society expects. That is to say, most men in her age group are already married and, therefore, this position would deny her a partner. It was a very painful reference and more painful when people keep referring it to you even in your presence. Besides, my parents and other relatives kept reminding me that time was running out for me to get married. My mother, in particular, wanted a grandchild. It was a huge concern for the parents that I am single and I there was no sign of getting a man for myself. In a similar attitude, some of my close relatives warned me that time was running out for to get married. I need to take action or else I bring embarrassment to the family. These concerns were expressed almost on a daily basis.
Although the pressure to get married did not affect me for a long time, it reached a point where it began taking a toll on my health because of the daily reminders from all corners of the society. After sometime, I felt I was obligated to heed the advice of my parents. I felt I should respect what some of my friends and relatives suggested. And above all, I wanted to find a solution to the extreme stress that such attitudes had brought into my life. As a result, I began considering dating to satisfy my parents and some of my relatives and friends.
Admittedly, dating is not a good experience when one does not do it in his or her own will. Psychological preparation is critical. So, I went ahead and dated a couple of guys with the intention of meeting my future husband. To my disappointment, there was little motivation. Also, I felt that relationships were curtailing my freedom to go out anytime I want. Some of my career and job demands were also not being met as before. It was a terrible experience. As a result, it became another source of stress for me as well. To the surprise of most people, I quit dating and resolved to engage in it until I am psychologically prepared to engage myself in a serious relationship.
In conclusion, I changed my behavior to suit the perceptions and attitudes of my society. Instead of focusing on my career, I yielded to pressure to comply with the expectations of the society in spite of the adverse effects such expectations had on me. Although such dating adventures realized minimal results, they helped learn many lessons about men. More importantly, I learned that it is critical not waiver in pursuit of personal happiness no matter the intensity of the opposition one faces from the forces of our society.
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