Should says many things. We live in a world of should and over the years the words of should have echoed in my ears and constrained the way I have lived my life.
- I should try harder
- I should work harder
- I should be a mother (sadly I’m reaching an age where I should be a grandmother)
- I should be quiet and I should also be louder or at the very least I should speak up more
- I should sit still
- I should grow up
- I should be a good wife / daughter / sister
- I should put the needs of others before my self
- I should have a bigger house, car, TV, better phone
- I should want more yet at the same time I should be content with what I have
- I should be more ladylike
- I should behave appropriately whilst I should also let my hair down a bit – I’d probably be more fun if I did
- I should exercise
- I should be thin
- I should be on a diet
- I should drink less and I should also drink more
- I should expect less whilst I should aim high
- I should have a successful career but I should also be nice
- I should be a senior leader
- I should be outstanding
- I should be faster
- I should look a certain way. I should have long hair. I should wear longer and shorter dresses.
- I should get a tan, get a bit of colour
- I should let go a bit, let my hair down, have a good time
- I should be on social media. I should post 3 times a day for optimum engagement.
- I should have more money of which I should donate more
- I should get a job and I should volunteer
- I should care less what other people think
It’s that last point that brings me to where I am today. I’ve wrapped myself, no, I’ve bound myself, with all of these ‘shoulds’ that have bombarded me, and sadly, are becoming bigger and faster and more frequent in this modern world and I’ll be the first to admit myself that I’ve struggled to work out what matters and what doesn’t. I have tried so hard to be everything I should be to everyone I should be. Over the past month I’ve been doing a course with an Intuitive Guide that I found quite by accident at the beginning of lockdown and I find myself at this point, where I realise that in by focusing on should I have actually neglected who I am and what matters to me. I’ve reached the point where the ‘shoulds’ that have bound me have been torn apart and my heart is poking through to say hello to the world.
I can name on one hand those people who have made it through the binds that wrapped me up so tightly. The people who have laughed with me, cried with me, run, (cycled and swum) slowly with me, drunk soft drinks and Prosecco with me, sworn with me, eaten cake with me (and often encouraged me to eat more cake), talked with me, filled my head with fascinating facts and discussed things with me, explained things to me when my maths brain couldn’t cope, travelled with me, who haven’t cared if I was fat, thin, tall, short, that have encouraged me to be more, do more, aim higher, have more of what makes me smile. Those people who’ve taken the time to find out more, to understand more about me, to go beyond appearances and dare to find out what it is that makes me tick. Those people who’ve seen me at my worst and at my best. Those people who really don’t understand what goes on in my head at times, but are still there, regardless. Those people who’ve shared the best and worst of their lives with me and who still continue to inspire me every day.
For a bit there I taught sociology to A Level and I will never forget the words of Erving Goffman who talked about the stages that we perform on throughout our lives and that we are never truly alone. There is always someone that we are performing to and if we are not performing we are rehearsing for our next performance or critiquing our last performance – so even when we are alone we struggle to be ourselves. The world of should feeds this and with the onset of social media and the internet, we are bombarded with a constant stream of ‘shoulds’, even down to how clean your house should be and things change so quickly, so regularly, life is temporary, throw away. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to be yourself, or stand out from the crowd, or even disappear from the crowd! The props of life seem to be getting more and more and at the same time seem to be increasingly more important that life itself.
So, what happens to a person who doesn’t want to live in a world of should. I shall tell you. They are ridiculed, they are made to feel lesser than and bullied, as if there is something not quite right with them. They are encouraged to change, to be more normal, to fit in a bit more, not draw attention to themselves quite so much, reign it in a bit, essentially to stop being who they are – primarily because it makes life easier for other people. I remember I was running with some friends once, we were chatting away at the back of the pack, but careful to be in front of one woman who we always had to be ahead of and a chap commented that if we stopped chatting we could knock minutes off our times. But where’s the fun in that? Why should the only reason for entering a race be the result, why shouldn’t it be about the chit chat, the good bag at the end, the cup of tea and the cake! The most fascinating people I know and have met along the way are those who quite regularly put two fingers up to should – who dare to be bold and dare to live life on their terms – and how often I’ve wished I could be more like them, but the bounds of ‘should’ were wrapped so tightly I couldn’t quite see how I could ever break free.
I’ve set myself a challenge. To step out from the world of should, to let my heart shine, to do those things that make me smile, that truly make my heart sing and to finally stick two of my own fingers up to ‘should’.
- It will be noisy and quiet in equal measure
- It is both exciting and terrifying
- It will involve the sand, the sea and the stars
- There will definitely be music and dancing and laughter (and probably the odd tear or two)
- There will be a yoga mat and a meditation stool
- There will be swimming and cycling and God willing a bit of very slow running
- There will be science and spirituality (although my brain will more than likely be a bit challenged by the science bit)
- There will be writing and making and creating accompanied by swearing
- There will be dreaming and twirling
- There will always be cake
But most of all there will be more of me.