Sunday, November 6, 2011

"the shoulds" are worse than "the shits"

Sometimes I get "the shoulds."

I should do homework.
I should call my dying father.
I should write to my grandmother.
I should stop saying "shit".
I should put the period inside the quotations because that's the correct American way.
I should go to church.
I should clean my room.
I should stop using my car as a closet.
I really should do homework.
I should get good grades.
I should go home to visit my family for Christmas.
I should work more hours.
I should go to FHE.
I should stop staring at the pretty girl with brown eyes and curly red hair in the library.
I should write an essay.

When I was having a really difficult time with life and I hated myself and cut up my arms and legs, I decided to try counseling. I really only took that option because the woman I thought I was in love with at the time suggested it might be a good idea and because I had no other options left--nothing else was helping--and because BYU offers free counseling to full-time students. I also thought that it would be a gateway to getting happy pills, something that would, of course, help me fit into Happy Valley a little better. My goal was to be happy. Because I should be happy--especially because I'm Mormon; Mormons are happy people.

What I didn't realize before I started counseling (aside from how much I really needed to talk about my feelings and my personal issues) is just how much I based almost all my decisions on what other people expected of me. My therapist asked me several times "Where are these 'shoulds' coming from?" For a long time it threw me off a little bit. I would come up with reasons. I should get good grades because I want to go to grad school and I want to have a good chance with applications. I should go to class because I want to graduate. I should call my dad because he's dying and what if I regret not calling him then? I should do this because it produces this result and that's good because it should be good...or something.

I learned that I don't have to do anything. I don't have to let these "shoulds" take over my thoughts, my time, my life. If it isn't a "I want" then who cares?

The thing is, it's not that easy. I still get a serious case of "the shoulds" every once in a while--actually more often than I'd like to admit. It's even worse than "the shits" because usually when that happens there's a good reason, right? That can be blamed on dehydration, or too much coffee, or drinking water on a backpacking trip without properly filtering and boiling first (in which case I hear it can become "explosive shits"--ewww. Sorry, I always have to come back to what *should* be left in the bathroom).

I've noticed something about "the shoulds". I get them especially when I lose sight of who I am. I forget that I'm a person--for real!--and that I get to live my life for ME. It's easy to forget because I grew up in society. I grew up with all these cultural expectations directing my life. Smart people should go to school to get smarter. Smart Mormon Girl people should go to BYU to get smart-mormon-girlier (i.e. get married, get pregnant, and become the first counselor in the Primary). Successful people with jobs graduate from college. And here are my "shoulds". I should do my homework. I should write an essay and finish my lessons because I should finish my Independent Study courses soon soon soon so I can graduate because I SHOULD graduate because successful people with jobs graduate college and I should be a successful person with a job. Here's the catch, I AM a successful person. I've done a LOT of things in my short life. I've changed the whole world already--did you even notice? Well, I did. You were too busy paying attention to all your own "shoulds" that you didn't even see. And, for the record, I do have a job. A fairly decent job at that. Look at all these social expectations I"m meeting. Yet, here I am writing a blog post that I should have written yesterday (because today is Monday although you won't know because I'm magic and can post retroactively) while I really should write a little essay for my class that I have to finish in two weeks. TWO WEEKS. I tend to get "the shoulds" really bad when I'm stressed out. You know what it does? It just stresses me out even more and then my "TO DO" list has more and more "should" type things on it like:

  • turn in that one essay I finished already
  • finish analysis essay
  • (but first read the stupid thing to analyze and then start analysis essay)
  • write one-page proposal for super long awful research paper
  • Read "The Dead"
  • Write Dead essay
  • get a headache while trying to finish yucky to do list in the library and failing miserably
And it has less things on it like:
  • call person I have a crush on
  • make a smoothie and put something new in it
  • work on awesome sewing project
  • go for a walk--because the day is SO lovely even though it's November and it snowed all weekend
  • take a long, warm bath with all the rubber duckies I own
  • pick my nose in a public place and make no effort to hide the fact
  • write lovely stories in my ugly blue journal with the quiet pages
  • play in blueberry shake puddle on the kitchen table with my friend's baby sister

Unfortunately, I don't have an anecdote for myself tonight. Not that I NEED one...just...I don't. I want to graduate. Because of this want, I've got to conform to completing the requirements for graduating--even if they don't seem to match what my soul wants. It hurts to tell my soul that now is NOT the time for covering the floor with construction paper and fingerpainting a giant red, yellow, and green portrait of Bob Marley and then rolling around in it after making proper documentation. But, sometimes things have to wait.

here, listen to a good song

walk on, walk on, walk on cause you can't go back now

~live your own truth~


  1. Urine, shit...blood? Tears? Saliva? Sexy fluids?

    (quite interested to see your next few posts)

  2. haaha. we'll see how I can work blood into my next post...might not be too hard bc Aunt Flow is visiting right now and I've always got something to say about that. :)

  3. Oh, Tiff! Your posts always sound exactly like you, and that makes me smile. Now I'm going to go make a smoothie and put something new in it :)

  4. Kristalice!! thanks. I'm so excited about your smoothie :)