1. Used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.
2. Indicating a desirable or expected state.
3. Used to give or ask advice or suggestions.
Should. I have said and written this word so much, it doesn’t even sound like a word anymore.
It is a powerful word though, one that has caused me a lot of regret, pain and disappointment.
I should have bought a house/travelled the world/be further in my career/be a mother/wait until I meet Mr Right before I have a baby/be smarter/be more like people my age/be slim and go to the gym all the time.
Those are just some examples. The buying a house, career and becoming a mother ones are my main ‘shoulds’. They are my goals, my dreams and what I lose sleep over at times.
Now this is where I am not even sure anymore if it’s my anxiety talking, or if it is other people’s expectations drummed into me. Most likely a bit of both.
To some people, those goals were ridiculous when I was 21. It’s becoming more acceptable now that I’m 27, but I’m still questioned.
So where did you go to uni? (I didn’t go) Where have you travelled? (Travelled/ sat by a pool, read books and didn’t leave the hotel ever… doesn’t count huh?)
What have you studied in your spare time so you’re super smart and can have intelligent conversations about anything and look at people who don’t understand like they’re missing out on life in some way because they don’t know every famous artist, place, song, film, book, or you’re not great at science or math and you don’t know the meaning of life…. *and breathe*
…. Ok there may be some insecurities coming through in that last one. The ‘I should be smarter’ one is huge for me.
Then when people hear about my life goals, they tell me “you should travel the world before you’re tied down with those things. You’re young and single you should be out all the time enjoying your freedom”
I tell myself I should do things all the time. I ‘should’ all over my life. Should should should. (Definitely doesn’t look like a word now.)
This is the main cause of my self doubt and disappointment in my life. By constantly telling myself, or being told, I should do something, I am also telling myself that what I am doing is not good enough. It makes me question myself all the time and I’m in a viscous cycle of – want, should, doubt, disappointment.
Well here’s the thing, if should and want don’t match, what’s the point? I know there are limits to this statement – I should pay my bills but I want to buy nice things – that should is right, pay your bills, the things can wait!
But ‘you should go travelling or study or live for the weekend and go out doing something new all the time’
I don’t want to! I like my seemingly boring life and I don’t live for the weekend because I love my job.
I want to travel and see parts of the world, but I want to experience it with friends, in short bursts so I can come home and be with my family. My family are my world and my family is always growing so I experience new things all the time. The first time my niece said my name or said “I love you Aunty Jade” that new experience melted my heart and brought me pure joy. The fact that my nephew only has to hear my name and he smiles – heart melting, pure joy. Spending an evening with any one of my family, talking about life, watching films, doing anything – pure joy.
Watching my best friend’s business grow into something we both excitedly dreamed of for her for years – pride, excitement, pure joy.
Don’t be held down by what you think you should be doing, or the fact that you thought you should have those things by now. Your life may not seem as exciting as others, you may not have the same life goals as others, but do the things that bring you joy. Feed your soul with what you want not what you think you should want. Don’t put shoulds on the timing, it will happen when it happens if you work for it.
You don’t want to travel, don’t. You don’t want to buy a house, don’t. You don’t want kids, don’t. You don’t want to settle down, don’t.
Be yourself, in all your glory and don’t ever feel like yourself isn’t good enough.
For me – I am going to go on holidays with my friends, some of which may involve sitting by a pool and not looking up from my book. I am going to work hard at my job and get a promotion or two. I am going to continue to save for my house. One day, with or without a partner, somehow, I am going to be a mother.
Just be you, don’t apologise for not wanting what others want. It doesn’t make you any less than them, just different.