A bad case of the “Shoulds”

I had planned to get home from work, walk downtown, and marvel in the madness that is SXSW Music. I had planned to carry my cameras and take lots of photos. I had planned to attend at least three film screenings tonight.

But when I got home, I realized I was dead tired. I felt all these “shoulds,” but I finally decided that I had to take care of myself and listen to my body. So I ate dinner and went to sleep. I feel much better, but I’m still tired, so I’ll probably go to bed soon. I excel at napping, but sleeping at night just isn’t easy for me. I often have different forms of insomnia, and every now and then it catches up with me and wears me down.

Anyway, what is it with shoulds? Who is keeping track of my life so closely that I feel the need to follow a certain plan? Does anyone in the world really mind that I didn’t participate in SXSW events tonight? No! So why the guilt?

I often have to remind myself that there is no one watching and critiquing the movie that is my life. The people who do watch me with interest will love me no matter what I choose to do, eat, wear, think, or be. I am always wondering who it is I’m trying to impress… and I think it’s really myself. I have this silly little woman sitting inside my brain saying, “You should be perfect! You should be good! You should be wonderful and make it look effortless!” Where in the heck did she come from? She’s been there as long as I can remember… even in kindergarten. I’m working on SHUTTING HER UP, but it’s not easy. She’s loud.

I’m taking an online course right now called Unravelling. It’s centered around photography and writing, though it teaches you to do neither of those things. It just uses them as tools to “unravel” yourself, and figure things out. I’m LOVING it.

I wrote this little fairy tale for myself for one of the writing exercises:

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was the best at everything. She had really high expectations of herself… to get the best grades, have the best job, the most friends, the best blog, the coolest clothes, the most gourmet/sustainable/homemade diet, the best body, and the coolest life.

One day she realized that no one cared about these things but her, and that if she let go of the need for being perfect, of being “the best,” the rest of the world would open up to her. Her life would broaden, she would smile more, and people would still love her.

I’m trying to remind myself of this every day.

5 responses to “A bad case of the “Shoulds””

  1. Hi Crystal

    I relate – too much I’d say – to what you wrote in this post. But thanks mainly to your last post, and to this http://inkonmyfingers.typepad.com/ink_on_my_fingers/2010/03/how-to-fall-in-love-with-you.html, from yesterday I’ve been treating myself completely differently – which is very good, believe me.

    This morning I woke up earlier than usual and went to the gym before coming to work (after skipping days, or even weeks) and felt so good afterwards that I can’t explain. Maybe because all of a sudden, and for the first time in my life, I felt I was doing it for myself, for my wellness and for my health, and not for the body that I think(!) people want to see me in(!!!).

    I have a bad case of shoulds but an even worse case of “what will people think/say” that I need to get rid of asap. Let’s keep the high expectations but for our own sake, and not anybody else’s.

    Thanks dear, I wish you well!


  2. This post really spoke to me today! I think we have a lot in common.

    When I don’t follow through with what I planned (like cooking dinner, working out, going to a movie), I feel like somehow I failed a little at life. Like I could have had this great once-in-a-lifetime, in-the-moment, experience. So I feel like I just skipped out an important part of life if I choose to just go home and relax. But I think I’m trying to realize just like you are, that that’s okay and it’s not going to ruin my life to break plans.

    Also–I love your little fairy tale. I think sometimes when I communicate with people, I come off as kind of cold or snobbish because I’m constantly trying to keep up and have something super interesting to say, but then they just think I’m rude or conceited or something. I’ve been trying to realize that I can just let my guard down and not have to worry about being impressive, and that people will probably like me more for that. It’s hard!

  3. You certainly should go see the Rocketboys and Eisley tonight at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop tonight at 9.


    Go for me, since I can’t be there!

    Hope you guys are well. I love your blog.

  4. You could have gotten all C’s, had only 1 friend, the worst blog, the rattiest clothes, the worst diet and I would still love you!! Thing is…it isn’t a fairy tale! We all care only about you and your beautiful, special self! I have noticed so much has changed with you and things get better everytime I see you! You radiate this beautiful presence everywhere you go. You look so much happier and relaxed. We are all so blessed because you bring so much joy into our lives. So you just bring that little lady over here so I can punch her lights out! I will tell her, “Hey! You better leave my sis alone! Don’t make me go psycho on you!” Love you baby girl!

  5. Flavia, I’m so glad we’re both learning to love ourselves! Your gym thoughts are exactly what I’m talking about… actually doing it for ME instead of for everyone else (and what I think they want).

    Nicole, that’s exactly how I feel! Just trying to keep up the appearance of “cool” is tiring. And then I realize that it’s not even necessary.

    Oh, Steve, we missed it! They are rockin’ it over here though… I swear, everywhere I go, someone’s talking about the Rocketboys!

    Michelle, how much do I love you? Sheesh, so much. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *