Thinking back to my days in therapy, I remember the number of times the words “should” and “supposed to” came up. Each time they came out, my clinician said, “there are no should’s or supposed to’s” (SSTs). I am pretty sure I heard those words hundreds of times before I finally really heard them.
Eventually, I realized that SST’s I had internalized from throughout my life were a big piece of my problem. SST’s offer someone else’s view of who you are or need to be. Pressures to do something the “right” way or be the “right” thing will not lead you to your most fulfilling life.
Your best life comes from making the choices that you feel are right for you at any given time. Will you regret some of your decisions? Yes, of course you will. Will you regret letting someone else make the decisions for you more? I’m willing to bet that is a big YUH HUH!
When I think back to decisions I regret, they were nearly always ones I made because of something someone else said. I am who I am because of mistakes like these, but also because I learned to listen to myself over others more and more.
The more I have lived my life my way the happier and more confident I became. My first career had me feeling like I had to present myself in a certain way to be worthy or taken seriously. I lived with only portions of myself revealed to the world.
When I first transitioned to my second career, I kept pressure on myself to separate whole me from work me. Only a polished, forced-happy mask would do. When I finally crushed under the weight of that mask and got help, I decided that I would never again separate parts of me from others. I will only live as fully authentic, integrated me.
It took breaking away from the location I had lived for nearly 20 years to finally fully free myself. At my current job, many of us laughingly call ourselves the Island of Misfit Toys. Each of us comes with our baggage and past issues, but our particular mix of authentic selves forms a dynamic, diverse, and high-functioning leadership team.
The friends and family I have love me for who I am – all of me – and that favor is returned.
Sometimes it takes letting go of the SSTs, embracing your own decisions, and running with the right pack to set yourself on the right path – the path of Wild and Free.