The Idea of “Should”

My sister wrote a post the other day that mentioned certain conversations that were had with/at us when we were teens and young adults (not that I’m not young now!), about what we should look like, the way that we should conduct ourselves, the things that we should say, feelings that we should have towards other people.  As we got a little older and a little more able to defend ourselves, the blatant, raw conversations slowed down and it became a game of passive aggressive comments about how we should live, where we should live, how we should structure our lives, who we should (or shouldn’t) date, how much we should (or shouldn’t) eat.  It became a battle of their should versus our reality. 

That idea of should is so pervasive that I find myself having a hard time for what I should or shouldn’t do, eat, say, exercise, cook.  It’s even snuck into my relationship with my man and I find myself fighting off what should be and replacing it with what is and what I choose to create.

One of the things that I find helps me put it in perspective is to remember who these people are that are giving us all sorts of tips and guidelines on what our lives should look like. For instance, they would like us to be married with kids.  That’s a big one.  Everything in their lives revolved around getting married and having kids.  Let’s see how it worked out.

My grandparents got married and had a kid.  And my grampa had an affair when that kid was an infant.  My gramma has never, ever forgiven him for that and lives with resentment and hatred every day.  Score?

My mom got married and had kids. And she and my dad both had affairs, did drugs, became religious zealots (that was short lived, thank heavens) and eventually got divorced when my sister and I were about 7.  Score?

So, that’s what I should aspire to?  Babies, affairs, resentment, sadness, drug use, alcoholism, bitterness, separation, single parenting.  Sounds great!  OR!  How about I stay in my committed relationship with someone who tells me he loves me every single day, who kisses me as the first thing that he does in the morning and when I get home from work.  How about we live the life that exists in front of us right now instead of wishing, driving, hoping or praying for something that is not meant to be within the framework that we’ve created?

How about we love every day as it is and celebrate our happiness, work through our struggles, weave ourselves together to withstand the BS that life throws?  How about we strive to improve ourselves together and separately, to bring forward as much joy as we can stand in the hopes that it blazes out whatever crappy stuff might come up?  Should I not aspire towards that?  Even though it might not look traditional from the outside, don’t I already have everything I should want in life?

I know all of what they say and do comes from a place of love but it also comes from a place of fear.  They say that they just want us to be happy, that we should be happy.  Unfortunately they’re not willing to look past what they think that should look like.  How scary to look at what your life could have been like but having missed it because you were too busy making sure it looked like everyone thought it should.

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2 thoughts on “The Idea of “Should”

  1. Amen, sister!! We should be besties. (sigh) I, too, have lived most of my life doing what people (mainly my mom) have said I should do. And although I get why she pushed me the way she did, I also feel like I missed so many opportunities because I was following someone else’s plan for my life. Now that I’m older, my mom still bugs me all the time about getting married and popping out a few kids, but I’m finally living MY life the way I want. I’ve been with Eric for 13 years. We’re happy. A piece of paper isn’t going to miraculously make our lives better or richer. And as for kids, well, that’s not up to us. We can’t just say we want kids and BOOM! There’s a baby. Mother Nature and God are the givers of life, so talk it out with them. I agree that it’s hard to break free from all the “shoulds” in my mind, but as I get older, I’m learning how to ask myself “what do I WANT to do?” rather than “what SHOULD I do?” It’s both freeing and scary to think about what I want over what I should do, but I’m getting better at it. 🙂 (and side note: I do love and admire my mom dearly. But I prefer she just accept me for who I am and be happy I’m happy.)

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