By Alyssa Velazquez
In a world built on societal norms and guidelines, rarely are there any rules that go unnoticed. In a way, we all are unconsciously the watchmen of our fellow man, parading around our everyday posts and distributing verbal pink slips for misconduct.
Violations such as wearing white after Labor Day, talking to yourself in public, picking your nose, eating with your hands, and cutting in line would have all been considered normal if we had not deemed them to be deviant. True, wearing white after a particular date in the calendar and picking one’s nose are minuscule compared to theft or murder, yet all are considered disastrous mistakes in society regardless of their degree of seriousness.
As I thought about these deviations, I began to think about our female norms and guidelines for relationships.
Throughout elementary and junior high school, I went to Catholic school. As with all normal teenagers in their primary education, I went through my awkward stage very slowly and very painfully.
By fourth grade, I was the tallest girl in my class. If I had been lanky it would have made my height somewhat bearable. Skinny, however, was not in the cards for me. My Puerto Rican blood made it very clear early on that I was destined for wider spaces.
There I was, the tall Latino girl with untamed body measurements, curly hair, and glasses. I was truly a sight to behold, and my mom used to try to console me at night with excuses that I was more mature than the rest of my classmates or that I just hadn’t lost my baby fat yet. My classmates however, must have missed those motherly memos, and for the rest of my education I was teased mercilessly.
My mom, doing what she thought was best, sat me down one night for a talk. It was my birthday and I was sobbing uncontrollably for having been made fun of by a boy about the brand new floral dress that I wore to school that day. She looked in my eyes and with utter sincerity asked me if I knew why that little boy made fun of me. Through fits of hiccups and sobs I spurted out “because he is mean, nasty, and hates me.” A smile stretched across my mom’s lips, and she, along with the ancestors of moms before her, told me my first formula for disaster in relationships: “He did it because he likes you.”
Once the phrase left her mouth I was doomed, as all other little girls that have heard that phrase have been condemned to a universal female norm for relationships. As children, we were distributed the “love/hate” formula to figure out male behavior that just isn’t true. From that time on, we grew up believing that the more crap a guy puts us through, the more he likes us. Complete jerks transform into wounded puppies afraid of love and commitment, when in reality, jerks are jerks, and boys that bully little girls are bullies.
The more I thought of formulas, the more I realized how many we actually have. Even when we are in a relationship, our friends feed us guidelines for men. These range from how to change them, how to keep them, and occasionally, how to lose them. At times, our friends and family are not even enough. Seeking guidance from psychics, palm readers, even our astrological prediction for the month provides us with essential guidelines to follow in our current or future relationships.
I was amazed not only in the fact that women had created these formulas, but also that we truly believe that through these models women are one step closer to figuring out the male species and love. We don’t seem to realize that all these antidotes for the pains of love and relationship problems never solve anything, but in fact create more trouble.
For the rest of my time at Catholic school, I took all the ridicule from that boy just because it was impressed upon me that he secretly liked me. As I laugh at my past follies following fabricated formulas for relationships, I wonder why women have never been taught the most important guideline of all: In love there are no formulas.