At the core of all of our human interactions lies the concept and implementation of boundaries.
But what are they? As defined by google “boundaries are a line which marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.”
Ever been to a party where an auntie made an afterthought of a comment about your need to lose weight, or have you ever had a guy friend who certainly crossed a line, but one that you weren’t allowed to point out? Ever decided against defending yourself because you didn’t want to appear unkind or stuck up? How about when an individual -male or female for that matter- kept a lingering hand on your body?
Yup, you guessed it. All of those pertain to the concept of boundaries; physical and psychological boundaries.
Recently, there’s been a rise in popularity about taking care of your mental health and how doing so didn’t simply mean to take a bath with a face mask on -although god knows we all need it every once in a while- but rather how there were undiscussed recurring themes within our day-to-day behaviours that stunted our growth and our overall happiness and thus worsening our mental health. Boundaries fell under that category.
However, the way in which these issues & their solutions were presented seemed rather out-of-touch and quite frankly tone-deaf with our reality as SWANA and MENA teenagers. Simply because of how different our and western cultures are and how the resolutions that work for them don’t -in most cases- work for us. So what does work?
Firstly, it’s important to establish the need behind developing strong boundaries. I’ll let you figure that out for yourself, as everyone’s experiences are different, but always remember that it ties back to your mental health and that it eventually dictates how you go about your life on the whole.
Secondly, how do we go about implementing said boundaries? Well, it’s important that we recognize the dynamics of our relationships and which ones ought to change and which we ought to completely cross out. Once that’s made clear, one can over time gauge techniques to overcome situations in which the other person consistently tries to overcome your boundaries. For example, the next time an auntie asks about your weight, you can simply reply that you’re at a healthy weight and are satisfied. The goal being to end the conversation in a civil manner, while clearly establishing a newer dynamic. In another instance, if a guy friend of yours makes a not-okay joke that everyone laughs along with, recognize that its okay that you deem it inappropriate and not okay and call him out on it, “hey, I don’t think that was funny” could do the trick.
Most of all, just ensure that you protect your inner peace. But it’s important that you take into consideration others around you. Not that it’s your job to educate others, but many within our communities and societies -especially our elders- aren’t necessarily aware of the mere notion of boundaries, mostly because they’ve become accustomed to their invasive lifestyle. But it might be that when you introduce them to your new approach that they’ll be open-minded and willing to learn. And if that’s not the case, that’s still okay.