Friday, June 03, 2005

You Don't Know What It's Like

"You don't have kids, so you don't know what it's like."
"You don't have a mortgage, so you dont' know what it's like."
"You don't have a husband, so you don't know what it's like."
"You don't run a business, so you don't know what it's like."

I have to tell you - I HATE hearing the words, "You don't know what it's like." I absolutely HATE being told that I don't know anything because I'm not in the same exact situation.

Just because I don't have a husband, does not mean I don't know how to be in a relationship. To consider someone's feelings. To discuss matters with them. To get annoyed with them. To have to listen to them. To act as part of a couple, not just a single person. To make sacrifices and take care of their wants and needs, if required.

Just because I don't have a mortgage does not mean that I don't know what it's like to have to pay for a place to live. To have money for rent. To make sure my bills are covered. To have responsibilities and a job and a back-up plan if something goes awry.

Just because I don't have children, does not mean I don't know what is good for them. How they should experience life. What is dangerous around them. How to protect them. How to look after them. How to make sure they are having fun. It does not mean I am incapable of taking care of them and being in charge and guarding them with my life if necessary.

I am TIRED of being told that because of my lifestyle I "don't know what it's like" because I don't have a career, a husband, 2.3 kids and a house with a picket fence.

I have a lot of what those people DO NOT have. I have the ability to be anywhere at any time. I travel the country. I wake up somewhere new every day. I can see the sunrise in New York and set in Ohio - IN THE SAME DAY. I do not have to worry about how I'm going to get the washing machine fixed or when the pool guy is coming or who is going to watch my kids so I can go to a movie like a normal person with a girlfriend in the middle of the afternoon IF I feel like it.

I look at people around me and see many of them having less of what I have, with more of what I have right at their fingertips. People who have lavish homes but can't enjoy them because they don't have time. People who can't go on vacations because they don't have the money. People who go to work everyday at a place they hate, but have to because they are imprisoned by their lifestyle and need to finance it. People who bitch about their jobs, yet can't leave because they don't know "what they'd do". I know people who have worked everyday of their lives, to not have a DIME in savings. No security for their old age. No health care. No 401K or IRA.

They are in no better position than I am. Yet, I hear about how much I "don't know" because I don't have what they do. I know a LOT. I have tons of friends and family members who have husbands, homes, kids, careers and money and I don't see them doing any better or knowing any more than I do because they have "experience".

Do we not value the advice of a pastor who may be unmarried and childless? Do we not listen to a child psychologist that may not have children of their own? Do we not attend marriage counseling with someone who may have never had a spouse? Do we not take financial advice from people who are not millionaires?

My mother is a good example - she counseled people with drug and alcohol problems. Yet, she never had a problem herself with either. So how I ask, can she possibly know what it's like to come off a high, or kick a heroin addiction if she hadn't experienced the feelings herself? How can she know what a person, who has spent the last week in a alcohol induced stupor, needs?

Just because you haven't DONE it, does not mean you don't know what you are talking about. Do not discount the advice or observations of someone who may have a clearer view of your situation than you might. It does not mean you have to follow their advice, but you might consider it. Many times we cannot see past our own prison wall. Or, we DO see the escape route but don't know how to get to it.

If someone cares enough to tell you something they observe as not being so "okay", maybe you shouldn't tell them that they "don't know what it's like".

As we all have heard as kids - you don't have to touch fire to know it's hot.


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