As a kid/teenager, I never really realized how much of my life was mapped out for me. I didn’t realize there would come a time where me and my friends had to choose our own paths and make decisions only we could make. Coming to college and into adulthood has introduced a new word to my life: should. It’s my least favorite word. It is often full of anxiety and shame and all the wrong reasons. I use this word when I feel in adequate or confused- when I’m comparing my path to those of the people around me. Becoming an adult has meant making my own decisions, living my own life and having to accept the fact that my everyday will look different than those to the left and right of me.
I chronically suffer with doubting I’m doing it right. If I see success or goodness on someone else’s path, I often think I must need that to find my own success as well- completely ignoring God’s own unique plan for just me, and believing there is simply one or two ‘right’ ways. In my doubt I begin to think..
“I should do more”
“I should clean my house more”
“Why am I not doing that too?”
“I should I should I should”
Maybe the word makes you cringe like it does for me too. Whenever I hear a friend utter that word, more often than not I tell them, “should is a bad word”. I looked up the definition of this word I’m writing about, and it only reinforces what I’ve found to be true in my own life:
used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions
I wonder why we often let obligation and “correctness” be our guide– shaming us into inadequacy. It is truly a word of comparison. So instead of nagging myself with “I should really go to the gym” I want to reframe my thoughts to be more loving and gentle: “I want to go to the gym to take care of the body I have been given”.
In creativity there is no room for this shaming comparison, yet I often find myself thinking “I should practice more so I can make work like that”. Instead, the thing that will truly bring me into my own best work is working from a place of rest, knowing I don’t need to catch up, or be the same. We each have our own paths, our own best next step forward. ‘Should’ simply has no place as we navigate our own unique and completely personally-written paths.
Thanks for reading this, I hope some of it made sense and you step back and think the next time you hear should come into the conversation.