THE INVISIBLE INFLUENCES

A couple of months back I was at the OB-GYN, waiting for my turn. There were almost 20 women already waiting, so I thought it would take time before I would be called in. I took out my phone to continue reading the book I started. Few pages into the book, I was pondering on the idea of the author when a girl in her mid-twenties walked in. 

Receptionist: Good morning Mam!

Her: Good morning! I need an appointment with OBG.

Receptionist: Name mam

Her: Abigail 

Receptionist: Number of weeks or gestation period?

Her: 28 weeks

Receptionist: Age mam

Her: 26

Receptionist: Married mam?

Her: Unmarried 

Receptionist: (Little hesitant, she asked again to reconfirm) Unmarried mam?

Her: Yes

By now, everyone’s eyes in the room were fixed on her. I slipped back into reading my book. I was called for my checkup and the doctor ordered for a scan. I was seated at the waiting area of the radiology wing when Abigail approached me and almost snapped with the question, “Would you mind if I sit here?“. There was a dose of anger in her face. “Sure“, I replied. 

“Is it so difficult to not make me feel awkward? Why can’t you do your own stuff and not concentrate on others?” – she said in a tone which was screaming frustration.

“Excuse me, I didn’t mean to. Abigail, right?”. She nodded

“Abigail, you are feeling awkward because you noticed us glance at you when you said you weren’t married. I understand that it might be difficult for you to go through the process of birthing being unmarried. In a conservative society like India, heads are going to turn every time you say you are unmarried with this baby bump. By now, you have made a decision to go ahead with the baby, so, the only thing you should do is to get accustomed to these stares.”

She was staring at me with a puzzled face

“I am not judging you. In fact, I don’t know how you ended up with this pregnancy. This pregnancy could be a result of someone not keeping their promise, or you are having an IVF, or you are the receiver of an unconsented sexual encounter. Whatever the reason may be, personally I appreciate that you stood for your baby. There is a lot more for you to handle apart from these stares. Don’t give too much importance to what we would think or say. Am I going to help you during your delivery? No. Would I be taking care of your kid in the future? No. Do you think if you would ever cross my thoughts again? Maybe.  Am I your family or friend? No.. then, why should you care about what I think? Abigail, I don’t want to be harsh on you, but straight to the point, please stop consciously noticing other’s behaviors.”

“Are you saying it’s my fault?”

“It is not about one’s fault. Not about what is right or wrong either. When you made a decision, you should be prepared for the consequences, good or bad. Whatever your path may be, there would always be people who dislike it or criticize it. If I were you, I would think about ensuring a safe and secure future for my kid. The rest should be taking a back seat at this point in time.”

She smiled and I moved on with my scan. I never saw her again. I hope she is doing fine and had a healthy baby. 

It is not just Abigail who thinks about what others would think or behave when we do certain things, all of us do. Many think that only when we are doing something that does not fit into the “rightness” of society we tend to change or modify our decisions. In fact, these invisible factors are influencing us every day, they would continue to do so if we allow them to. 

Consider a situation when you are out for dinner with friends or family. When we are placing an order in a round-robin fashion, if anyone before us chooses the same dish as we have in mind, we tend to change our choice. This is often because we think it hinders our individuality. We do not buy shoes or clothing we see are being worn by many others. 

One more example could be choosing our next vacation spot. Many who follow others on facebook or Instagram, choose their vacation spot that is different than others in their social network. Somehow, we like to say that we visited a place no one else did. Constantly, we are conscious of our decisions. 

As far as I am concerned, I give the least importance to what others or society thinks. I believe society does little when we are in trouble. If we have a very caring society and family, we wouldn’t be so worried about our decisions in the first case. So, why give so much importance to what others think? Why should we base our decisions on their thoughts? We should always do what is best for us but do not hurt others at the same time. 

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

– Dr. Seuss

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