Sometimes, it’s best to ask to know for yourself and you alone!
It can be very difficult living in an environment that even before birth has predisposed you to what you can and cannot do. You are given unspoken rules and expected to let them guide. It becomes a case of what you can and cannot do even before you have understood why you can or cannot.
Growing up, I lived in a very structured and religious house. My family was not very strict but my parents had expectations of us, obviously, in accordance to the Bible. I learnt to follow these unspoken rules that determined my lifestyle. Deliverance programs were monthly, we were not expected to wear trousers, make up was a strict NO! We were not even allowed to perm our hair. I remember an incidence when my eldest sister feeling like she had arrived, relaxed her hair. My dad tied her down and shaved the entire hair from her head. I never asked for the reasons and whether or not my parents knew the reasons for this, I might never know or ask.
Fast forward years later, as an adult, I was still guided unconsciously by these beliefs that were so deeply ingrained I never thought to question. It was not just about these unspoken rules, it was about the environment, the restricting beliefs that dared you to dream and challenged you to be a non conformist. It took leaving my environment entirely and meeting people with a liberated mindset to begin to give expression to all the questions I had grown up with, that I had unconsciously squelched lest I be termed abnormal.
I began to question the wearing of trousers, the no make up rules, fixing of nails, body painting, attending churches every 31st in herald of the new year and a host of other questions. I had no particular problem with all these things I had grown doing or not doing but I wanted to know for myself. I wanted my decision to be based on personal knowledge or shared experiences. I wanted my decisions to be based not on rules I have had to subscribe to my entire life but by decisions I have consciously examined and approved in line with my values and tenets.
First to be examined was wearing trousers, then using make-up. Examining the whole idea behind going to church on 31st of December in celebration of the new year was a bit tough as it took a whole lot of doing on my part to convince my parents but I eventually did. Next was fixing of nails. So far, it hasn’t been easy doing them, but I have.
It takes a whole lot of fear, confidence and belief to begin to challenge the knowledge you have been structured to believe your entire life. It takes a lot of doing to step out of your comfort zone to know for yourself. Most importantly, knowing for yourself strengthens your beliefs and values as they are tethered to a knowledge obtained through conscious self examination and reflection on your part.
I have answered some of those questions for myself and well on my way to answering more. At least I can consciously point to myself and say that my actions are based on my beliefs, mine and none else.