Why did my ancestors have to be Puritans?

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I, and many of you, kinda got screwed over in the ancestor department. I’m not talking about my more recent ancestors, so any relatives reading this can just calm down. Save your outrage for the next family reunion when the talk inevitably turns to the infamous, decades-old grudge over a car ride. (You know Great-Grandmother Sara was right about that all along. *ducks and covers*)

No, I’m referring to the Puritans. To be honest, I don’t know that I can draw a direct line between the Puritans and me- I think I’ve got more French Hugenot or something- but I’m thinking more about the people responsible for so many of our collective cultural hang-ups, so go with me here. 

In my mind, I see myself as a laid-back, carefree kinda gal. And in comparison to other people, that may be a somewhat accurate depiction. But ever since I married a guy from South America 12 years ago, I am reminded no less than 20 times a day just how uptight and, well, Puritanical I can be. 

Sometimes my boring-yet-practical Puritan traits work to my favor. I remind my actually-carefree husband about things like, oh say, locking the front door and making dentist appointments every now and then. Setting an actual bedtime for our kids. (Not a thing in Argentina). Giving them a few chores. (Also not really a thing). But so many times I wish I were the one livin’ la vida loca. I know that’s an outdated reference, but I’m too tired from overanalyzing everything to think of a different one.

Now with time and lots of therapy I could work through these issues, accepting my neurotic little self just as I am. Alternatively, I could just write a post about some of the Puritan vs. fun ancestor things that annoy me and share it with you. And given the state of our mental health care system, you can probably guess which route I chose.
Puritan hang-up #1: Pleasure is evil
Ever notice how much guilt Americans have when it comes to just about anything pleasurable?

Relaxing= guilt
Drinking= more guilt 
Eating= you better believe it

Where could we possibly have gotten these crazy ideas?



Look, we may not be quite as hardcore as our ancestors used to get about this kind of thing- no one is being burned as a witch for wearing a color other than black- but that guilt shit didn’t just go away once the other (cooler) groups started to arrive to this country. 

This quote from an Italian guy in Eat, Pray, Love not only sounds just like something my husband would say, it’s also spot on.

“You feel guilty because you’re American. You don’t know how to enjoy yourself …You don’t know pleasure. You have to be told you’ve earned it. You see a commercial that says ‘It’s Miller time,’ and you say ‘That’s right. Now I will go to buy a six-pack,’ and drink the whole thing and wake up the next morning and you feel terrible. But an Italian doesn’t need to be told. He walks by a sign that says ‘You deserve a break today’ and he says ‘Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m planning on taking a break at noon… to go over to your house and sleep with your wife!'”

Puritan hang-up #2: Unproductiveness is also evil
Every single week in my yoga class, my teacher repeats the following phrase over and over again in a calm, soothing voice: “We’re all enough. We. are. all. enough.” It’s like she’s trying to talk down a room of spooked horses. Being yoga, no one ever says anything back, but everyone basically looks like this:



We’re the first-world equivalent of a nervous herd of gazelles, anxiously running from thing to thing because we feel like no matter what we do, it’s never enough. After all, idleness is the Devil’s workshop, right, Puritans? Again, thanks for that. Way better motto than ‘How about a nap?’

Each time I hear the ‘we’re all enough’ refrain, I can’t help but imagine what the response would be in France.

Puritan hang-up #3: Sex is supercrazyridiculouslyhowcouldyoueven evil
I mean this goes without saying, right? Sex may be everywhere in our culture, but Americans’ attitudes towards it are still mindblowingly prudish compared to other countries.

I just got back from two weeks on a beach in Mexico, where every day I had to work up the nerve to put on a bikini. Once I reached the water, I then spent the majority of my time tugging here and there to make sure all my bits were covered up because while I may have essentially been in my underwear, this was NOT a peep show.



Meanwhile, the Brazilian women…



Omg I somehow put that last gif in by accident. I’m hyperventilating. AVERT YOUR EYES!! SAVE YOUR SOULS!!!

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