08.13.12 Truth & Wisdom
BY Victoria Cox
Let’s be honest here – how many of us start out our day with a “should”? I should make sure that I complete my to-do list today. I should make sure that I call my neighbor back about joining the book club that I really don’t have time to commit to. I should accept that work invite with the colleague that I can’t stand but who might just be the gateway to my next promotion. Are we turning into a nation that is should-ing ourselves into misery?
Of course, life has obligations that we have to meet; if we passed up on everything using the excuse that we just “can’t be bothered”, then nothing would get done. Life would soon resemble an episode of Hoarders where we find ourselves opening the door to our apartment, praying that the delivery guy won’t notice the parade of rodents shuffling from pizza box to Chinese takeaway carton and the strange collection of insects peeking out from the pockets of our crusty pajamas.
Obligations are just that – obligations. Commitments should be met and deadlines honored. But at some point, a fine line must be drawn in the sand as to what we are willing to say yes or no to. Otherwise, time will pass us by and we will come to the shocking realization that we have been living a life doing what was expected of us rather than challenging life to live up to our own expectations.
I have often wondered if all this should-ing is a uniquely female thing? I have yet to find my boyfriend frowning into the bathroom mirror, endlessly pondering about whether he should invite his friend’s new girlfriend (who he refers to simply as Witchy due to the unfortunate mole placement on her face) to dinner. Just doesn’t happen. The very simple male thought process goes something like this. Want to see my friend for dinner, can’t stand Witchy – well, Witchy isn’t getting an invite. End of thought process. No endless pontificating about how said friend is going to take the news or how he needs to phrase it just-so in a text message to avoid potential offence.
To put it simply, he doesn’t feel that he should do anything he doesn’t want to. And so the next question leading on from this is: how do you get to this level of simple thought-response-action without endless hours of guilt? Perhaps the answer is to stop caring so much about what people think of you and just do what your instinct tells you is the right thing to do. Ultimately, deep down, we all know what responsibilities are ours and what responsibilities have been hoisted upon us by the expectations of society, our friends and of course, our family.
All jokes aside, this should-ing runs so deeply through our psyche that we can often find ourselves making life decisions based upon what we should do rather than what we want to do. Life streams along at such a quick clip that we might find it easier to just go with the flow and, much like fish migrating for the winter, take the easiest route downstream.
But perhaps the easiest route isn’t always the best route for us as individuals. How do we grow and learn if we don’t challenge ourselves? We are only on this planet for such a short amount of time that every important life decision matters and therefore should be taken with our best interests in mind. If we stop listening to the noise of society and get quiet with ourselves, we might find that the answers are right there waiting patiently for us. When we have the answers, there are no more endless questions. It’s an inner knowing, and we can learn to trust in this process and understand what is right for us at this stage in our life and act accordingly.
Perhaps we need to turn down the volume dial on Radio Society, start to tune out those well-meaning friends who tell us that our clocks are ticking and we better find a mate and start breeding. Mute the mothers who wag a knowing finger and lecture that we better find a partner or else risk being left alone and miserable with nothing but dog-eared self-help books and Dr Phil for company. What if we don’t want a baby or a relationship? What if we want to move to Argentina and study salsa? What if we want to quit our stressful job and become a pastry chef? What if we want to date multiple men or women and say a big ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to monogamy? Life’s possibilities are endless and we have to make sure that we are making decisions based solely on what is right for us and not to feel guilty about our choices. If it feels right to you, who cares what anyone else has to say. Be confident in your choices, simplify the thought process and do yourself a favor. Take a big black marker and erase the “should” from your dictionary.
Featured image by John Schultz on Flickr