I’m in a rebellious mood, so I thought I’d talk to you about letting go of the things that no longer serve you. Let’s discuss how to not be so obedient. We were all taught certain rules growing up, by our parents, our teachers, even by society. Social pressure led us through our school years with rules of how to behave at parties, how to act with our friends, how to be the cool kid, what music to listen to, what to wear.
These social pressures follow us through the stages of our lives: how to date, how to behave on the job, how to spend your weekends, how to retire.
When I was working in an office with loads of people I always dreaded the Monday question of, “what did you do this weekend?” Everyone had tales (and I say “tales” because I’m sure they were exaggerated out of peer pressure) of these great adventures. I ran four miles, I went skiing, I played tennis and then I went to Disneyland and on and on and on.
Meanwhile, my ultimate weekend was enjoying a relaxing couple of days at home sipping wine in my backyard, or curled up with a cup of tea and a book, or spending three hours over a leisurely dinner at my friend’s restaurant. Not very exciting but exactly what I wanted.
Not everyone has to enjoy the same activities. Not everyone needs or wants the same things.
You don’t have to fill your weekend with grand events, or try to cram your entire life into two days off. You don’t have to follow the crowd. You don’t have to do happy hour or go to a movie every weekend. You don’t have to spend Saturday morning at a Zoomba class.
These activities are all fine if you want to do them. Don’t feel pressured to do them because you think you should. I can’t think of anything worse than spending Saturday morning at a gym. I spend most of Saturday morning in bed. That’s how I unwind from the work week.
No matter how old you are or how grown up you are, you will still find people who are willing to tell you what you should do. “Oh, you’re not breastfeeding your baby?” None of your business. “When are you going to settle down and have kids?” None of your business. “What do you mean you want to quit your job and go back to school, or open your own business, or travel the world.” It’s nobody’s business.
The people who leave their mark on this world are the ones who make their own rules and do whatever they want. They are the originals. They don’t follow the crowd. They don’t try to live up to other’s people ideas of how to live their lives.
Imagine if Vincent Van Gogh or Salvador Dali or Pablo Picasso listened when someone told them, “that’s not how you paint.” You know at some point someone surely did. What if someone told Beethoven his music was too loud, or told Shakespeare he was too wordy. You know somewhere along the way some busybody did. Thankfully, they followed their own vision.
Don’t let anyone get into your head. Shut out the voices of the naysayers.
Don’t allow someone’s lack of vision to hold you back from creating something wonderful.
Give Up Childish Things
I remember back when I was fresh out of college, I was working in an office, and I was writing something out by hand. One of the guys in the office said to me, “you write like a Catholic school girl. You still form all your letters the same way the nuns taught you.” I shrugged and he said, “don’t you want to develop your own handwriting? You’re allowed to write the letter “R” any way you want.” It’s something I never thought about. I was obedient.
Even on a simpler, personal, day-to-day level, we can still get caught up making decisions based on things we were taught as children. I’m glad I learned my ABCs but I don’t have to write them in perfect Palmer Method penmanship. I’m not going to get detention.
I want you to know it’s OK to not have bacon and eggs for breakfast, or cereal. Just because that’s society’s idea of an all-American breakfast, doesn’t mean that’s what you have to continue to do. If you want to have a leftover chicken leg for breakfast, go right ahead. Occasionally I eat olives for breakfast. It may sound weird to you, but who cares, right? Olives are good for you. I love Sicilian green olives. It’s better for me than eating a processed protein bar. Have a tuna fish sandwich or leftover pizza. Eat whatever you want. The world won’t stop spinning. My mother’s favorite breakfast was a donut and coffee. She lived to be 88.
You don’t have to do what you were taught. You don’t have to be so obedient
I’m not saying that you should forget all of life’s lessons and go out and break the law. I’m saying that you are a grown up and you can pick and choose what makes you happy. Make your decisions based on what you want, not what others think is good for you.
But you don’t have to listen to me. It’s your life.