You Should…

You should

You should be excited

You should want this

You should have responded how I expected you to

You should act like anyone else would in this situation

You shouldn’t have said that

You shouldn’t have done that

You shouldn’t be authentic to who you are.

It took me a while to realize the impact should-ing was having on me.  It took me time to process the words I was hearing, the feelings I was having, the reactions I was receiving.

It took me a while to grasp what was actually happening on the inside for me.

“Someone else would have never responded that way…”

“Someone else would have been happy…”

“Someone else….”

It’s a strange feeling that comes up when you’re told what kind of person you should be and how “someone else” would be.  It’s intrinsically confusing.  It’s heartbreaking.  It’s cruel.  And what came up for me, was shame.

Shame showed its ugly face when I started to hear who I should be, instead of being accepted as I am.

I started to shame myself for not responding how I should have.  For not responding how a normal person would respond.  For not feeling how I was supposed to feel.  I felt shame because the person I authentically showed up as was different than what was expected of me, wasn’t good enough, and therefore, the person I was, was wrong.

So the internal debate began. Do I stand true to myself and honor my feelings, needs, wants?  Do I conform to make others happy?  Do I put on a front to avoid an awkward situation?  Or the really shaming feelings of… are they right? Am I wrong for feeling this way?  Am I a bad/wrong/evil person because that’s what came up for me?  And the spiral of internalize the shame begins, and, it’s devastating.

Under no circumstances does this behavior exemplify love.

Friends, there’s nothing more joyful than being accepted for who you are. Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% in support of personal growth and surrounding yourself with people who want to encourage you to be the best you can be.  But the key word here is encourage. I recently heard the saying “people who really care about you don’t let you keep f*cking up” and I LOVE this.  And considering I know the source of this saying – I know the intention of this saying is about encouraging accountability, not inflicting shame.

So, a note to the shoulders: Stop it.  Stop telling people who they should be, how they should respond, how they should feel.   But instead, lovingly stand beside them and try to understand them.  Ask questions.  Be curious.  Show your invested interest in them.  Approach with love, empathy, curiosity and love, always love.  Did I mention show up with love?  I can almost guarantee you’ll be met with an attitude of gratefulness, openness, vulnerability, trust, honesty, humility….

And to my friends who have experiences the should-ing: Be you.  Be authentically you.  Honor what comes up for you.  Honor your feelings.  Be curious about yourself.  Ask yourself questions.  There is absolutely no room for shame in love – and that includes the love you have for yourself!  You are beautiful.  You are great.  You are wonderful.  God created YOU just as you are, and you are perfect. 

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Year 29

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This is how I spent my 29th birthday.  On the couch with some Ben & Jerry’s in the most comfortable onesie ever

Only moments ago I was sliding on a piece of cardboard down the grassy hill near my house, fishing for crawdads in the creek, playing in the street until the sun went down…

Time flies,  faster with every passing year.  I find myself wishing for this day to end or saying I can’t wait for the weekend, but this year, my wish is different.  I wish for time to slow down…way down.  This year, I’m going to be more present, in every moment… even in the 4th mind-numbingly boring meeting of the day moments.  Friends, there are literally times when I am talking to someone and I hear absolutely nothing…nothing.  It’s almost impressive, but mostly sad.

While it’s easy to say “I’m going to be more present” I understand this must be an intentional effort.  Here are some things I plan to do:

    • Start each morning in prayer: “Lord, please guide my head and heart and help me be more present”
    • set a realistic schedule for my day (even scheduling in time for breaks!)
    • only use social media once a day (do this by deleting the apps off my phone!)
    • avoid the “what if” or “coulda shoulda woulda” thinking
    • engage my senses more
    • cuddle my dog for at least 20 uninterrupted minutes a day
    • have a regular sleep and exercise schedule
    • smile more, even to myself

And the most important of all:
Have peace that God is in control and I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

While 26 is still the best year yet, 28 wasn’t so bad (less the last 5 days of it).  I enjoyed vacations in Bend, OR., Kauai, HI., Tahoe, Yosemite, Disneyland, Cambria, remolded my bathrooms, got a promotion, bought myself a brand new Subaru Forester (name pending, I’m thinking about Sheila), helped big-hearted folks create Bay Area Animal Rescue Crew and made a dent in finishing my master’s project.

So here’s to 29.  May you blow my expectations out of the water.