Beware: The “Shoulds” and “Woulds” Pitfall
It’s really easy to say that you shouldn’t get lost in the SHOULDs and WOULDs.
It’s really easy to hear it, really feel it, agree, and then…you know…forget.
This is why it has taken me 29 years to figure out that being you, and living your life from a place that is authentically you or aligned with who you want to be is a DAILY practice.
It doesn’t just click one day and then that’s it. Sweet, you’re good to go. Now, go off and be you all over the world. No one’s opinions will affect how you express yourself or act anymore.
Hate to break it to you, but not so much.
Will you get more comfortable with being who you are? Absolutely.
Will you learn to “avoid” environments and people that are a constant challenge to your happiest self? Sure.
Will you have to work at this every day in some way or another? GIGANTIC RESOUNDING YES. (Sorry not sorry)
I’ve always been so hard on myself for falling back into my old habits and ways of speaking/acting when I know that’s not who I want to be. When I know that it doesn’t serve me.
But, for me, it isn’t until I can see clearly past the SHOULDS and WOULDS to what I really want that I am able to really commit to myself.
MY GOOD OLE’ BUDDY ALCOHOL
Drinking is a perfect example of this for me.
For the last several years I have known that alcohol and I are no longer friends. We’re maybe sometimes occasional acquaintances, but for the most part I screen his calls.
I do not like the way it makes me feel, act, speak, or forget. And yet, I continued to allow myself to forget what mattered to me. I allowed myself to be swept up in the SHOULDS and WOULDS.
I SHOULD be more social (which for me had meant going out for drinks).
People WOULD think I’m more fun (sidenote: drinking is not a mandatory factor in being “fun”).
I SHOULD relax (“not drinking makes other people uncomfortable so stop being so uptight about it”-Myself to Myself)
I WOULD be more relaxed if I had a drink (social anxiety at its finest)
You work in a restaurant, of course, you SHOULD drink.
In these moments it’s easy to forget who you want to be, who you know is the next level happiest version of yourself.
I feel it is important to let you know that alcohol and I used to be BEST FRIENDS. Like, the bestest of friends.
What I mean by this is that we spent a lot of time together. It was one of those do dumb shit-together friendships. A friendship that for a long time, caused me to look back with a lot of shame at the choices we’d made together (What I remembered anyway).
I am only now starting to understand how absolutely useless those shame spirals are. A lot of “Give yourself a freaking break, would ya?” moments.
But, I really did feel ashamed. I really felt like I was letting myself, and those around me down.
This period of my life really is a prime example of “You are who you surround yourself with”, and I hate to say it, but the service industry is just a plethora of late nights, and spending all the money you just made on drinking. In my experience, of course.
For a long time, I couldn’t even remember the fun times I had had, I could only see the moments I was ashamed of.
HINT: This is useless. If you are doing this to yourself, please stop. You deserve better. And, how are you supposed to learn if you don’t make the mistake in the first place? How would you become who you are today?
You would probably be feeling regret over having not done the thing (whatever that is for you). I suspect that’s probably how I would be feeling now.
F(EAR) O(f) M(issing) O(out)
I started drinking a little later in high school, and I distinctly remember feeling afraid that I was going to regret having spent all my time studying instead of creating “classic” high school memories. I read and watched a lot of stereotypical high school-themed things, okkayy?
But, I really was afraid that I would look back on my life and feel like I hadn’t done anything “dumb” and stereotypically adolescent, or wish that I had been more rebellious. This was the height of my FOMO levels, I suppose. (I think I’m pretty much entirely cured of FOMO now because, you know, getting dressed is the worst).
Naturally, my grades slipped, I made some questionable life choices, and I entered a phase of total avoidance of how I felt about it.
Truth is, I was pretty disappointed in myself. I felt like I had let all the plans I had made for myself throughout high school, the great things I was going to do and the person I was going to be, slip through my fingers so that I could feel like I fit in. Like I was living the stereotypical life.
This continued on throughout all of university. I was working full time in restaurants, going to school full time (was not a great combo for me, in case you’re wondering) and got entirely swept up in the bar culture. Drank way too much, spent way too much money, and killed way too many brain cells.
And then, one day, I decided I wanted to travel. I woke up to the fact that I was unhappy with the way I was living (and, well, bored) and decided to do what I had always said I would. See the world.
CHOOSE TO TAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF, WOULD YA?
Travel takes money, so if I was really committed to making it all happen (I was) my drinking budget was going to suffer.
This was the beginning of the LONG ass journey to me realizing drinking was not the answer for my social anxiety. That I don’t have to like drinking just because everyone else in my life does.
It was also the journey to me decluttering my memories and realizing that there have been a lot of fun memories too.
It’s so easy to be hard on the person you were 2, 5, 10 years ago. How could she have possibly thought that was a good idea? Well, she had no freaking clue what she was doing and was just living the best way she knew how at the time. OK?!
Would you feel as comfortable in your own skin today had you not made those “mistakes”? Probably Not.
Would you be who you are today at all? Probably Not.
You are who you are today because you learnt those lessons and because you’ve lived the way you have. With a whole lot of “why not” moments. Plus, you know, you had some fun too.
So just stop wasting your current time worrying about the choices you’ve made. It is absolutely useless to do so.
Have you grown from it all? Yes.
Are you stronger because of it? Yes.
Do you know yourself better? Yes.
Well, then. What the hell are you so worried about?
Instead of going down another shame spiral CHOOSE to view your life as a giant adventure and lesson.
CHOOSE to be proud of your younger self for having made it through.
CHOOSE to be grateful for every choice you’ve made (no matter how you have perceived it in the past).
You can choose all of these things.
Perception is an absolute choice. And you are 100% in control of how you perceive your life.
This is something I CHOOSE to practice every day.
I CHOOSE to be proud of me. I CHOOSE to be grateful for her (young Laffy). I CHOOSE to lean into my journey and to use what I’ve learnt to inspire others to live their lives fully.
I’ve gotta tell ya, I am pretty in love with me and how far I’ve come.
JUST DO YOU, DUDE
I don’t drink at all anymore. For me, it is about valuing my brain and body too much. It is about not wanting to waste another day hungover (which I ALWAYS am cripplingly so). It’s about me pushing myself to feel comfortable socially without it. It’s about being present. It’s about learning from my mistakes. It’s about doing what’s right for me, no matter what anyone else has to say about it. When it comes down to it, it’s just because I don’t wanna.
I know myself enough today to know that it is not what’s best for ME. It’s not worth it for me anymore.
I feel healthier, more clearheaded, and saner without it.
Let me be very clear though, I am ZERO judging your choices and am ZERO alluding to the fact that I know what’s best for you and your life. That is not AT ALL what I’m trying to say.
All that I am saying, is that I am ONLY ever going to do what feels best for me. What makes me feel proud of me. What makes me feel like the highest level version of myself. (Try my hardest, anywhoo.)
Which probably means a drink for me will usually involve a beautiful vineyard from now on, but who knows. I don’t believe in restricting yourself with words like NEVER.
As long as you know yourself, and know what’s best for YOU. Not what makes other people feel more comfortable or what you feel you should.
Just do me a favour and try to hear your own thoughts; decipher them from everyone else’s.
I am so proud of myself and grateful for all of it.
I’m super proud of and grateful for you too 🙂
Here’s to doing the hard thing!
To be the best you! Now, and 20 years from now!
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