*Part of the Identity Series*
What is a Lifestyle Choice?
Lifestyle Choice definition: “a choice a person makes about how to live and behave, according to their attitudes, tastes, and values.”
A choice or decision that affects how they live their life and their own personal identity.
Some lifestyle choices that are judged by society:
Tattoos & Piercings
This is a big one for anyone born before the Millennial generation. They look at a heavily tattooed person and think that they have made poor life choices. That they will regret their tattoos once they are older.
Whether they come to regret their tattoos or not, tattoos aren’t dirty, ugly, or the mark of a criminal or degenerate. Tattoos are an art-form; a form of self-expression. Many people get tattoos, so why is it a bad thing only when a person has many or when they are clearly visible?
Again, I think it comes from the past and outdated ideals. In the past, people with tattoos were likely to be in a gang, fresh out of prison, or perhaps a sailor or navy soldier. However, we’ve moved way past that now. Tattoos are easily accessible and beautiful. They may have come from cultures or to mark a certain community in the past, but not anymore.
To judge someone based on their tattoos is to judge them based on their appearance. Which, as we all know, is not a good thing. People have an inside that you will never know if you push them away based on their exterior.
The clothes someone wears, how they style their hair, or what is imprinted on their skin (and whatever colour that skin may be), does not in any way dictate who the person is on the inside.
Anything but a 9-5 working life
This is a big one too! People can’t wrap their head around any other lifestyle but the full-time 9-5 (at least). If you’re rich, then yes, that’s fine; but if not, what the hell are you doing with your life?
Firstly, it may come as a shock but a lot of people value things other than money. If we all really truly thought about it, I bet we wouldn’t need quite as much money as we think we do. It’s the culture of “more more more” that encourages us to make more money and get more things.
Minimalists don’t need many things. Therefore, they don’t need a lot of money. Therefore, they may work fewer hours.
The same goes for those who live in shared housing. It cuts down on bills and rent, which means they need to make less money in order to live their life.
Or people who live on the road. They may not have a home at all, which seems odd to most, but if it works for them, who are we to judge? Without a home and bills, again, it cuts the cost of spending right down.
Did you know that it is much cheaper to rent a place in, say, Thailand than it is in the UK or USA? And if you did, you definitely wouldn’t need a 9-5. Hmmm…
Funnily enough, you are able to not have kids and still live a happy, fulfilling life! I want kids, but if my friend didn’t want them, that’d be OK too. Because having kids is a lifestyle choice. It is. But for some reason, not many think of it that way.
Think about it, once you have children, your entire life changes. You can no longer do things on a whim; you must consider your child first. Their health and happiness will naturally always come first.
You can’t hop on a plane to New Zealand for two months. You have a child a home who needs you.
For some reason, even those parents (mostly mothers) who do do things for themselves, like hopping on a plane, are judged, too! Because our society feels that kids become the centre of your world once you have them, and naturally, for the most part, they are.
If you choose not to have kids, for whatever reason, that’s OK. Because having children is a massive thing; I think we can all agree on that. It’s not something you decide to do just because you felt like it.
It takes planning, stability, ability, commitment (of like 18 years!), and more to bring a child into the world. Why does choosing not to do that seem so odd?
Some people do not feel like children have a place in their lifestyle. Some people feel that their personal identity does not come with the position of “parent”. And I can totally understand that.
“No marriage” can mean being single forever, or being in a committed relationship and never tying the knot, or having multiple relationships (polyamory) and none of which includes marriage. And these things are hard for the average man to understand.
Marriage is the done thing, right?
Does the fact that I’m not married to my partner mean I love him less than you love your husband? Hell no! In fact, surely it speaks more to my love if I stay with my partner purely because I want to, not because I’m tied to him by law…
At the end of the day, I think more people should look at marriage as a lifestyle choice instead of a necessity or a key part of life.
It used to be Education-> Job -> Marriage -> Kids. This was the formula for a successful, happy life.
This is the 21st century. Life just isn’t the same as it used to be back when marriage helped bond families for political, financial, or land-based reasons. Now, it is a lifestyle choice and I really don’t think it says anything at all about you if you choose not to make the choice to get married.
Love is love, and family is family, no matter how it is done.
Religions are a lifestyle choice, believe it or not. You may be born into a religious family or feel drawn to religion due to culture, but choosing to follow its pathway is a lifestyle choice. Because religion will change the way you live at times, and you are free to choose to do that or not.
People judge those who are a part of a religion. And, on the flipside, those in religions can sometimes judge those who aren’t.
I am Agnostic myself. I don’t believe in religion or a God, but I believe in higher forces at times. I have religious family members and religious friends (from more than one religion). And I do not judge them.
I see the benefits in religion, personally. It is comforting, unifying, and nurturing when practised right. There is no denying the ugly sides to some religions, especially in the past, but there’s no denying the good, either.
The point is, we are all free to choose; at least we should be. As long as a person is good and treats people right, should it really matter what God they believe in, or if they choose to believe at all?
What is NOT a lifestyle choice:
Who you are attracted to, have sex with, or love is not a lifestyle choice. It’s biology, chemistry, natural instinct and all that.
IT IS NOT A LIFESTYLE CHOICE THAT A PERSON MAKES.
Choosing to explore your sexuality could be a lifestyle choice, in some cases, due to curiosity or exploring your options, perhaps. But feeling like you must is not. That is just who you are.
See my post about Sexual Identity here.
Gender is a made-up construct anyway. It is a societal thing. Who’s to say what gender really is and how we should behave? This is a huge philosophical question, I believe, not really a scientific one. And so, let everyone do what feels natural and comfortable for them.
What feels like you and how you express yourself, shape yourself, define yourself, and so forth is a part of your personal identity and your mark on this world. It is not a lifestyle choice; it’s naturally a part of your spirit.
The judgement of Lifestyle Choices
Judging someone based on their lifestyle choices is wrong. We are all entitled to our opinions, and when it comes to someone we love, we can’t help but feel like we need to guide them to what we feel is better for them.
But we don’t get to decide.
Someone’s sense of personal identity is, well, personal. It comes from within. Whatever makes them happy and calls to their spirit is for them. Whether we understand or not, we must allow them to live their life as they see fit (as long as they’re not causing themselves or others harm).
Judgement is a tricky thing. It can feel like a natural instinct to judge someone, but I hope that like me, you are actively trying to do it less. We don’t like being judged ourselves, so don’t do it to others.
“Judge not lest ye be judged”
P.s. Some other things not to judge people for: How they dress, what they eat and drink, who they’re friends with, what their house looks like, how they express themselves, the pets they own, and so on!