Listen. We need to talk.
I see you with all these questions in your head and on the tip of your tongue.
Being the practical and reasonable person you are, you want to consult with people to make sure you're on the right track. Maybe you've tried talking to your partner, your friends, your parents, your sister, and your colleagues. Maybe you've consulted Google, forums, books, and Ted Talks, too.
For the love of all things true and good, you've done enough "research". It's time to stop asking around.
Asking other people about how to live your life is where "shoulding" comes from. As in, "What should I do? Should I do this, or should I do that?"
This is like asking, what's the most "correct" thing to do? And yet, we all know that there's always more than one correct answer, and there's always more than one good way to get there.
"Should" is a constricting word. It limits your potential, it limits your possibilities, and it limits who you are as a person.
I've said this before and I'll say it again: stop shoulding on yourself.
Now, I'm not telling you to stop receiving feedback or gathering different perspectives. Chances are, the people you're seeking advice from are people you trust and who care about you. They want the best for you. And the more perspectives you have, the more adaptable you can be.
The issue is when you trust their opinions more than you trust your own truth.
Notice what I did there. Other people's OPINION... versus your TRUTH.
Now, I know you must be thinking, "I don't know what my 'truth' is! That's the whole reason I'm asking around!"
To which I say: Yes, you do know. Listen to yourself.
I'm willing to bet that you've heard your truest self before, but you ignored her because you either didn't like what she said or you didn't trust her.
Oh, you heard her all right, but you just didn't want to listen.
I know how it goes. I've ignored myself to the moon and back, trusting in advice from ex-boyfriends about how to handle family conflict, advice from friends about which college classes to take, and advice from family about... everything.
It was easier to trust everyone else's advice, because if my life didn't go according to plan, well, it wouldn't be my fault. If it's their plan or their solution, the outcome wouldn't be so much my responsibility, and I wouldn't be blamed if it ends badly.
And yet, I realized that every time we follow someone else's advice at the expense of listening to ourselves, we are literally living someone else's life.
It does not feel good to live someone else's life. Square fucking peg. Round fucking hole.
Whatever advice people give you is what they would do. They are not you, nor will they ever completely understand your situation.
Their advice is given on the assumption that you have the exact same values, goals, strengths, weaknesses, interests, personality, and resources as them.
Their advice may actually be valid... but valid for whom?
That's what you have to figure out.
Make sure that whatever actions you decide to take are actually relevant to who you are and what your life is like right now.
This is your invitation to go somewhere quiet, where you can be very still, so you can hear yourself. Go to a park, walk underneath the trees, because nature exudes peace and stillness. If you can't do that, then take a walk on a safe street or go meditate in a quiet room. Sit at your desk with your journal open to a fresh page.
Consult with yourself, now: which pieces of advice do you want to keep (if any!), which do you want to let go of, and which have not even been spoken yet? What's the best way forward for YOU?
Just ask yourself these questions, without expecting or requiring an immediate response.
Maybe you'll need to take ten walks or sit through eight meditations or ask yourself these questions nineteen times. Or maybe you're already pretty in touch with your intuition and you only need to ask yourself once! All of that is okay.
What's important now is that you're finally asking the right person.
Do you boo,