I know it’s not quite what you imagined. But can you do some good with it anyway?
We humans do this weird thing.
When my adorable dog Willoughby wants something, he wants it. He doesn’t check, first, whether we want him to want it. He doesn’t wait to see if we’re okay with him wanting it. He doesn’t try to align his deepest desires with what he supposes that we may want him to want. He doesn’t try to guess what our vision of the perfect-Willoughby would want. He doesn’t worry that if he wants the thing, we won’t love him anymore. He just . . . wants it. This doesn’t mean he gets everything he wants, but he certainly doesn’t pretend to be not-Willoughby all the time. He just is Willoughby and Willoughby wants what he wants–especially if its edible.
We humans aren’t always quite that clever. Or maybe we’re too clever.
We humans do this weird thing where we suppress our actual desires.
Again, it’s probably best that we don’t actually take everything we want. After all, devouring two-and-a-half pounds of the kitchen garbage didn’t end up making Willoughby quite as happy as he thought it would.
But there’s a difference between self-control and self-supprression.
A bunch, if not most . . . if not all . . . of us do it–in some way or another, at one time or another. Some of us self-suppress consciously, some of us subconsciously.
It sounds something like this:
But what will this friend think?
Does that friend need me to be different?
Is it normal enough to feel this way?
Will this disappoint my family?
Will that friend feel let down?
Ask yourself . . .
. . . The things you say “yes” to in your day-to-day life . . . are they you things? Or are they that-friend things? Are they my-family things? Normal or expected things?
. . . If you felt 100% free from what your people have come to expect from you, would you still be doing or saying or choosing or pursuing the things you are?
. . . Do you sometimes catch yourself making a decision based on a hope to impress an important person in your life? Or not disappoint them? Even when deep in your gut you know you’re not being honest about what you want?
. . . Do you feel yourself pulled into dishonest yeses, because your person or your people need a version of you that’s not really you?
For some of us, I think this tendency is rooted in an unconscious belief that we are less important than others.
For some of us, I think it’s actually (or also) rooted in this quiet suspicion that we will lose people if we don’t live for them. That we will only be loved if we align our wants and decisions and priorities with what people in our lives would love to see us choose.
So 15-year-old kids turn into 40-year-olds in a career they wanted because their parents wanted them to want it only to discover they don’t actually want it.
And busy busy people cram even more things into their schedules only to realize that they still spend zero minutes each week on the things that actually spark passion inside them.
And you and I agree to be in positions where people are counting on us for something that we’re not admitting is bleeding us dry, and we can’t imagine backing out because that is not what those people want or need from us.
And the days turn into weeks, turn into months, turn into years.
And all the while, if Willoughby doesn’t want a bath, he doesn’t want a bath, and if he does want a bite of our steak, he does want a bite of our steak, and there is zero pressure in his mind to pretend he feels differently.
He just gets to be Willoughby.
What if you just let yourself be you?
Would life be different?
So how can you get more honest with yourself today? Whose life have you been living? What voices can you let go of today? What deep desire can you connect with today? How can you be truly you today?
Good luck friend!
There is still that soft breeze you can feel touching your skin and blowing gently through your hair when you go outside.
There is still that song that moves you deep inside every time you hear it.
There is still that cup of coffee you make in the morning, the exact way you like to make it.
There is still that friend you used to phone with before life got so busy.
There is still the taste of pizza–to taste again, or even just to think about for a while.
There is still that pair of running shoes, and you were so excited when you bought them, and maybe you’ve forgotten how exciting they are to you, and maybe if you scrub them off and shine them up a little, you can feel the same excitement.
There is still that one scene of Michael Scott’s, after Oscar accepts his little homemade scarecrow goodbye gift, that has made you laugh from deep in your belly time and time and time again.
There is still the sound of geese, honking you awake in the morning, on their way back to their summer home somewhere up north, honoring this strange and strong force called life.
There is still a dusty comic book sitting somewhere in a box, waiting to be rediscovered.
There is still a stranger’s real smile as you walk by each other keeping an awkward little distance because you’re pretty sure you’re supposed to right now, but my word, that smile felt close and comforting.
There is still your little kiddo’s uncontrollable laughter when the whole box of cereal spills on the floor.
There is still your hand that can feel and touch and hold your other hand, clasping, intertwining your fingers, squeezing, massaging your palms, proving for your own sake that you are still here, grounding you in the reality of life in its most beautifully basic form.
There is still your favorite game to play.
There is still your blanket you’ve been missing.
There is still a quiet trail in the woods.
There is still that YouTube video of yoga for beginners that you saved to your watchlist a while ago when you were in too much of a hurry to give the new thing a try.
There is still kombucha.
There is still that journal you’ve been meaning to start writing.
There is still the old album on your computer full of happy photos of adventures that, though “past,” are still just as real a part of your life as this present moment.
There is still the nap that you’ve wished, on every other day, that you had the time to take.
There is still the magical painting on your wall that you could just stare at.
There is still the tail-wagging, hyperventilating, zoomies-inducing excitement of your doggo that OMG YOU ARE HERE WITH ME TODAY!
There is still your comfy couch.
There is still your piano with eighty-eight wonderful keys that have always, always, always been there for you to come back to when you need to find your heart again.
There is still your best friend.
There is still a bubbly creek you could sit down and listen to.
There is still that book you’ve been looking for time to read.
There is still a warm bath to take, and I bet that eucalyptus scented Epsom salts aren’t out of stock today (I could be wrong).
There is still pen and paper, and you’ve meant to start drafting your big dream project for years now.
There is still a floor, and there are still hands and knees you can crawl on, as silly as that seems, and if you try you may find again this weird feeling, now foreign, that you used to call “play” when you were so little, so silly, and maybe actually so wise and so in touch with life.
There is still a closet you’ve been meaning to clean.
There is still that book you want to write.
There is still Winnie-the-Pooh.
There is still the old jigsaw puzzle you never opened, and maybe you don’t know just how fun those can be.
There is still your favorite shirt.
There is still intimacy–loving, comforting, caring, silly, needed, amazing intimacy.
There is still a massive, loud, rushing waterfall for you to sit and watch.
There is still that movie you’ve been meaning to watch ever since it won an Oscar four years ago.
There is still the new hairdo you’ve been wanting to try.
There is still conversation.
There is still that other career you’ve been waiting for time to research and explore.
There is still the documentary you saved to your list for some free afternoon.
There is still a letter you can write to someone who means more to you than maybe they realize.
There is still the blog you’ve been nervously waiting to start.
There is still your phone’s internet browser with, I bet, a bunch of tabs you opened to read on some hopeful but imaginary future date when you’d “have time” again.
There is still the recipe you’ve been waiting to try.
There is still a colorful and imaginative storybook or twenty-two that your little girl or little boy would love to hear you read, if you’ll let them turn the pages.
There is still a field or a pot full of flowers that have been waiting for you to see them.
There is still the friend you’ve wanted to reconnect with.
There is still a walk you can take.
There is still a meditation practice waiting to be tried.
There is still the friend who told you they’d always be there for you if you needed to talk.
There is still a mountain (big or little, it really doesn’t matter) that you’ve been waiting to climb.
There is still the language you’ve been wanting to learn.
There is still that weirdly and powerfully magical little moment where you glance outside and, look, the sun is coming out!
There is still your body, ready to wrap itself in a safe and comforting hug.
There is still life.