Terms and Conditions Apply

by | Jun 2, 2020

How often as children have we heard our parents use, “if you get good marks in this subject, we will get you that toy or let you go to your friends birthday party.” I heard it a lot when I was growing up and even now when I’m 22 years old, my parents say similar things. With our parents was the one relationship that we didn’t have to build – it was there from the first breath we took. Most of what we understand of love and relationship would stem from there. I think that is why most of us have conditional relationships now, whether it is with our parents, siblings, friends or a love interest.

We take this knowledge of relationships and start using it outside our homes. It starts from a very young age. As kids we would only play with someone if they shared their lunch with us or we would only sit with people who were considered to be cool. All our relationships are conditional and we often times do not realise it, till we are well into our adulthood.

In my opinion high-school-level relationships are the worst. They are relationships of ‘I will do this for you, only if you do this for me’. They’re relationships where the same person who is your best friend one year because you both like the same DJ is your worst enemy a year later because they made fun of you in a Biology class. These relationships are fickle. And shallow. And highly dramatic. And pretty much the entire reason why we often do not miss high school or wants to go back. Having these relationships are fine till a certain age because they teach you a lesson and are part of an individual’s growth. Most people outgrow these relationships and move on to finding people they genuinely like for who they are and not for what they can do for you. But there is an element to these relationships that would always stay with us – expectations.

Now that we are older, our parents can’t put conditions on things because we won’t allow that but they are constantly expecting things from us. If your parents have sent you to another city for education, they expect you to keep them informed about all your whereabouts. They have expectations about our career. We have expectations from our friends; they should call us to all outings, and with the presence of social media, it’s gotten worse. There is posting, commenting, liking pictures, it’s all become a part of friendships and a lot of it is conditional.

The biggest problem with conditional relationships is that it takes away a part of your freedom. Let us take the simple example of people choosing a career, most of us have the so called freedom from our parents to pick our own careers and build our own lives but all of us know that we can’t disappoint them and pick something that is not ‘socially acceptable’, it’s a false sense of freedom. Conditional relationships always come with pseudo freedom and that is what most often leads to the fall of these relationships. In today’s world, I’m actually left to wonder, isn’t everything conditional? From the education you get, to the food you can eat, the political ideology you support to now if you come out of a global pandemic without serious repercussions, everything is based on conditions varying from your class, caste, gender, the work you do and if your government actually values human rights.

The reason I started this blog with talking about relationships and specially parent-child relation in regards to conditions is because what you learn at a very young age, often stays with you throughout, consciously or subconsciously. We are all so used to everything coming to us with conditions, we don’t even question there need anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand certain situations require a set of conditions to come with it but in a larger perspective, I do believe these conditions are more bane than boon.

‘OK, dad, but this is the last time I’m going to show you how to set the parental controls.’

Are we all living in a pseudo sense of freedom?

Freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. In school we were taught, freedom is every person’s birthright, it has been written in our constitution. So why is that in any argument with my parents, I’m often told, “you should be happy with the freedom given to you.” Now as a kid I would often shout at them and say, “you have not given me any freedom, it was my birthright and it can neither be given to my or taken from me.” In an ideal world that would be true but we don’t live in an ideal society. It is because of my parents, I actually have the freedom to live a life I want, if it wasn’t for the financial security they provide me and according to Maslow’s hierarchy of need, I have my physiological needs, safety needs and my belongingness and love needs covered by them, since birth.

This makes me question, do I actually know the meaning of true freedom? My parents are my cave (reference from Allegory Of The Cave by Plato), this is a cave I would never leave and we all have our own caves which we might never be able to leave. So are we all always going to live in a pseudo sense of freedom?

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