Life is full of expectations, and sadly, most of them come from other people.
There are milestones that young people are expected to hit in life. If they're late to these, they invite criticism from family members, friends and even complete strangers who have supposedly made the "right" choices.
If they refuse to strive for these milestones altogether, they're deemed bizarre and offered unsolicited advice about how they should change themselves.
First, you need to get a good job. And, no, I'm not just talking about finding enjoyable work that pays the bills. The enjoyment doesn't matter. You need a "respectable" position, complete with benefits and a high salary. Anything else is deemed unworthy and judged accordingly.
Your personal goals and dreams don't matter, apparently. It's all about the money and the benefits, with your happiness coming in last every time.
Next, you're expected to buy a home. And, sure, some of us would love to buy our own living space — but owning a home requires people to make sacrifices, from resigning themselves to one place to putting aside other financial ventures.
And finally, you're expected to get married and start a family. These are especially pushed if you're a woman. At a certain age, people are likely to just start asking when you're planning on popping out another human being — as though this is a decision that barely requires any consideration whatsoever.
The problem is, not everyone wants these things. But, as a society, we refuse to acknowledge that fact.
Too many of us believe we've cracked the code. We've found the "correct" way to live, and everyone else should follow in our footsteps. But there is no "right" way to do anything.
Everyone has their own path to follow, and that path is based on an individual's values and goals. Those may differ drastically from yours. And guess what? That is completely and totally OK.
Some of us would rather struggle financially than accept a dull job just because it offers decent benefits.
Some of us would rather travel the world, or move from place to place than be stuck paying a mortgage for the rest of our existence.
Some of us don't give a damn about marriage. It doesn't guarantee you'll stay together, and you can have a perfectly meaningful relationship without a diamond on your finger.
Some of us might not want children — yes, even if we have a perfectly functional uterus. (Try not to keel over from shock.)
And it's OK if you do want these things. Just stop pushing your desires onto other people.
Life isn't a race or a competition, and most of the people who treat it this way aren't actually happy with their own circumstances. Why else would you judge someone else for making choices that deviate from your own?
If we all lived the same lives, the world would be a dreadfully boring place.
Allow people to do what works for them. Allow them to choose when — and if — they want to reach your milestones.
And most importantly, stop harassing young people at family parties and social gatherings.