Do I REALLY have to?

So reading this title you probably think I’m going to write about a defiant child that won’t get out of the car to go to the dentist? Or maybe it’s more about just not wanting to ‘adult’ today. It’s neither of those, but ’adulting,‘even nearing 40 is tough!

What I wanted to write about was our expectations for life and the things we ‘have to’ do or achieve. There’s so much that is restricting about the phrase ’I have to.’ It implies something outside of ourselves is forcing us to do something and that we‘re not in control. However the phrase ‘I want to’ is empowering and implies an internal motivation and therefore control of our lives.

In my life this was really at play in my 20’s or when I wasn’t meeting goals or developmental landmarks. I wasn’t meeting my pre-determined ‘Have to’s.’ I wasn’t graduating at 22, a home owner at 25, or married by 28.

It wasn’t until, at a low point in my depression, that I gave up on these dreams. I thought they weren’t for me. I was destined to be a lonely failure. But weirdly I became less depressed by giving up! Probably not great advice for a therapist to give, but let me explain. By giving up, I realized I didn’t ‘Have to’ achieve these things to find some joy. In time I was free from this pressure of perceived expectation and started to see the world for what it is. And then I decided what I truly wanted.

This is extremely condensed. This was a long process personally for me and it wasn’t always smooth. I mean in all honesty I’m still working through it. Changing the way we perceive our worlds or ourselves takes time. But to anyone reading this, do you really ‘have to.’

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