Saturday, February 21, 2015

"should" happens

Not so long ago, I realized how many of my life decisions have been things that other people thought I "should" do. The advice I followed, unsolicited or not, was mostly well intentioned. It encouraged me to do things in the same way that the majority of people have found their happiness.
That way is fine. It has a decent track record. Those well-worn paths are traveled for good reason.
But it isn't the only way.
"should" happens every day. we are told to act, dress, think, react, feel a certain way. "should" has bullied people for centuries. it forms our social groups, politics, our perceived outlook on life, the way we handle our relationships, even stretching into our view of god.
"you should have it together by age x". this includes knowing what you want to do for income, partnering up with another human, what major purchases you should have under your belt, and how many degrees from certain colleges or promotions at work. 
Perhaps you knew early in life what you wanted to do a career. Statistically, most people change paths numerous times before they retire. Maybe you were happily employed and everything shut down, forcing you to switch gears just to make ends meet. Maybe it took trying on a few occupations before you found a good fit. Or, maybe, you're still looking for that fit.

we see people hitting milestones in their lives and hear the implications of how much we "should" have accomplished. because we compare our path to those around us, we can feel embarrassment or resentment about where we are in life. trying to follow all the "shoulds" makes us feel bad about ourselves.

i was one of those who had it all planned out. i had a list full of "should" that i was actively checking off. but as life tends to do, it throws a curveball (or several!) and suddenly how i pictured it didn't matter. i'm not sure it ever did. i'm learning to be content for what works for me, no matter what worked for other people. my path may look different than yours, and that's okay.  it's not a contest. sometimes unconventional, sometimes less than i imagined, sometimes a complete detour from the comfortable, but still mine.

"should" happens, but it's happening less to me. 


Blogger chantell said...

Grest post. Feeling pressure to measure up to the "shoulds" is often just another version of anxiety that comes from comparing ourselves to others. And it's ALWAYS a losing battle. It's a hard lesson to that sometimes I still struggle with myself. Thanks for sharing.

11:45 PM  

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