I work with a guy who is one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. He has a counseling degree from a Christian university, does his job well, and is always a straight shooter. That’s why it’s so funny when sometimes after being asked to do something he’ll turn and sarcastically quip, “I do what I want.”
Ah, if only life were that easy.
I’ve always been a “supposed to” kind of person. I’ve been borderline obsessive over making exactly the right decision in every situation. As a result, I’ve always played things pretty conservatively. Behave in school, get good grades, go to college, get degree, get job, have family, go to church, drive the speed limit, etc., etc. And those are all good things. But there were also some things along the way I didn’t do. Move away from the area I grew up in, take some time off from college, visit a foreign country, maybe not get a degree, think outside the box. It’s too late for me to do a lot of those things now.
As I pondered this yesterday, I started to get kind of fired up. Why can’t I, at age 40, just do what I want to do? I’ve always tried to stick to the rules, and I have a lot of regrets. Maybe it’s time for me to start sticking my neck out a little more. The more I thought about it, the more intense I became. I felt as if I could rip a car door off its hinges, just like Chris Evans did in the first Captain America movie.
How did I quell this aggression rising up in me? I broke my self-imposed “no Starbucks” rule and bought a decaf caramel macchiato.
What a rebel.
After a day back at work today and a healthy dose of reality, I realized I can’t always do exactly what I want. There has to be a balance in there somewhere. For instance, if my wife needs me to come home and watch the kids so she can run to the grocery store for something but I would rather go play golf (I don’t play golf, by the way. Only example I could think of.), it would be very selfish of me to just not come home. At the same time, though, if I want to homeschool my kids (which my wife and I actually do) in a world where public school is the recommended norm, why can’t I do that?
The “supposed to” mentality manifests itself in a lot of different ways for me. What’s the best shirt to wear today? What should I order at the restaurant? What are the right words to say to this person? What I’m talking about here, though, is something bigger. It’s a life philosophy. It’s deciding what to hold onto and what to let go. It’s deciding when to take a risk and when to play it safe. Most of all, though, it involves me moving out of a comfort zone (Man, I still hate that phrase.) and taking initiative.
And that is definitely not always safe.