A: It didn't feel safe to ask. Not at the time anyway.

Why not?

A: Everything was so different then. There was expectation you had to fit a certain mold.

Do you think we still have that now?

A: Maybe we do. It's hard to tell sometimes. In theory, we claimed to have a lot of freedom in those days. But it was only freedom within the confines of the molds they fit us into.

Can you give me an example?

A: For example, we were all expected to go to college after high school, as long as we could afford it. We supposedly could choose what to study, but it was within the script of the university system.

Do you think we're a lot different now?

A: It's hard to say. We often couldn't see the walls around us because they were invisible. Maybe invisible walls still exist today.

But it wasn't really the educational system you objected to, was it?

A: No, I guess it was this whole notion of scripts we all had to choose from. The career script. The parent script. The spouse script.

You didn't like those choices?

A: Well, the choices weren't so bad, but if we wanted to diverge from those scripts ...well, I don't know. So many things worked against us.

Like what?

A: Okay, it may sound silly in this day and age, but stuff like social pressure was a big thing back then. It may seem easy to ignore what others say about you now, but there was something about those times.

Fear of judgment?

A: Maybe. That was probably a part of it. If we did something off script, even if nobody said anything aloud, we would still imagine them thinking the craziest things about us.

Such as?

A: Oh, I don't know. Anything I guess. You quit your job, they talk about you. You give your kids up for adoption, they talk about you. You get divorced, they talk about you.

And what they said, or what you imagined they said, affected what you thought about yourself?

A: Yes, I think it did. Maybe it sounds silly to say it that way now, but I think at the time, we were all controlled by this unspoken fear of how we would be seen if we wandered off the officially approved scripts.

And who approved those scripts?

A: I don't know. Whoever controlled the culture I suppose. But the people we were afraid of the most were the ones we cared about the most. If we risked losing their approval, then we were held in place by what they expected out of us.

They wouldn't let you be yourself if they truly loved you?

A: That's not how we really thought about it at the time. I suppose they were seen as enforcers of the culture and impervious to change.

So you didn't try to change them.

A: Well, sometimes we did. That led to more arguments than I care to remember. At some point, you realize you were on the losing end of a war of attrition and you give up.

And what did you do when you gave up?

A: Went back to our lives I suppose. Lives of quiet desperation as they put it.

How did things begin to change for you?

A: You know, I'd like to say it was something out of personal initiative, personal choice or courage, but I don't think it really was. I think the culture was shifting then.

Do you think that was intentional?

A: I don't know, but what I do know was when it did start to shift, it opened up new spaces that we couldn't go to before, but now that they were open, we were free to move in.

When you say you couldn't go to those places before, what was stopping you?

A: Technically nothing I guess, but probably just fear of disapproval from the people around us. We didn't want to be the ones everyone talked about behind their backs.

So you waited until it was safe for you socially, before doing what you wanted to do.

A: Yes, I suppose that's one way to look at it. I suppose we had to balance the messages going through our own heads. If too much external negativity was pushing our internal thoughts in the wrong direction, then we had to hold off, just to keep ourselves sane.

Was there a time you could point to when it stopped being a problem for you?

A: Fear of social disapproval? No, I'm not sure. I think we were too busy with the act of living to keep track of things like that. Maybe as soon as each new space opened up, we were too busy exploring the new freedoms there to be worried about anything else.

And how did you arrive at what you think is most important in your life now?

A: It was no straight road. We didn't even know what we really wanted. It's like going into a new ice cream shop filled with flavors you've never heard of before. You never know what you like until you either try them all, or find one good enough that you stop changing.

What stage do you think you're at right now?

A: It's a bit of a mess. We all wandered a bit, stopping here or there. I think life is a work in progress. Even if you like where you are now, doesn't mean your tastes won't change a few years down the line.

That's true, I think I can agree with that. So does that mean you have no firm plans for the future?

A: Well I can't say I do. There are things I'm working toward that I think I like, but who knows how I'd feel when I get there.

Are there things you wish were possible that aren't at the moment?

A: Oh I think there will probably always be such things if we let our imaginations run wild. But are our current circumstances in a state to make such things possible. That's the important question I think.

Thank you, that's all I have for today. Don't forget our panel next week on what's coming up.

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