It’s really, really, really stupid. That as adults, we feel like we need permission to do things. To like things. To think things. To be things. The very best, most well adjusted people, of course, don’t — they just do, without a care, without a second thought. But most of us wait. Wait for validation, for permission from our families, from our spouses, from our bosses, from our Instagram followers.
Guess what. No one cares. Honestly. No one cares!! And what a good thing that is! So I thought we should do a little exercise. Think about the thing you feel most guilty about in the whole wide world. Now, assuming you are still within the lines of the ultimate musts (be kind, be wise, be good) than it really, really, really, truly, does not matter.
We all need different kinds of permission slips. I say, today we write our own, square that away, and get the heck on with our lives.
So, here is mine.
I give myself permission to change my mind.
OH MAN. You know those people that are SO good at something? The concert musicians, the Olympic athletes, the random old guys that are super, super, super into model trains?. I’ve always thought it would be cool to be really, really good at something. For people to notice. To have a thing. You know. YOUR thing. Your one thing.
And yet, tragically, I have always been terribly well rounded. Pretty good at almost everything, but not superb at anything. I know, I know, poor me. Really, not a bad problem to have, but, nonetheless, I’ve always felt this awful guilt, following around my various interests and projects and passions. GET A GRIP. I say to myself. Why can’t you just stick to something? What does that say about you, that you can’t enjoy doing the same thing for a very long, committed amount of time? Why can’t you just pick something, already! You could be great!
But, oh, man. That is so not me. Nothing sounds more terribly suffocating than doing just one activity for the rest of my life. Maybe that’s not ideal. And I know, to become proficient at something, you must stick to it for a while. But I am just so SICK of feeling bad every time I change my mind. Every time, after having dove head first into a project, built something amazing, learned everything I need to fill up my curious belly, and then suddenly been enthralled by something else…something totally different. Why in the would would I feel guilty about that? I feel like I do, but I know that I shouldn’t.
Actually, I don’t think this is bad. I love it. I absolutely love it. I love getting all wrapped up in things, so consumed by learning and ideas and projects that I work and learn at lightning speed and completely overwhelm everyone around with me with the topic for a few months or a year. And then, lightning strikes again, and I am seized by another idea, so magic and alluring and wonderful how could I not!!?!?! It is delightful! I must do this, now! Now!! And so I do, jumping around from thing to thing, like a bumble bee hyped up on sugar, with furiously flapping wings and enormous eyes. And it is grand.
Do you know what? I give myself permission to change my mind. To stick, and unstick, and stick to something else. Because with each bounce, I learn things, I develop talents, I focus my interest just a little more. And besides, what if I had insisting on sticking to everything, from the very start? Well…what were my first interests? Pee wee soccer? I would be a soccer star? But there are so many other things that I enjoy much, much more than soccer, so many things I never would have discovered. Because, you see, I only have so much time in the day. I like to tell O that I can only do three things at one time. Two things at a time is my sweet spot. That way, I can charge head on into the first one until I am up to my eyeballs, then switch to the other, and charge head on again. And this way, I can switch between each as I please, making marvelous progress on both, because I am only charging when I am inspired to do so. But three things work too.
I know, I know. Patience, consistency, commitment. Those things are important. And when it comes to the basics, like being a good person, loving and providing for your family, finishing schooling…those things are essential and must be responsibly handled, no excuses. And I can do that. I do it quite well. But in the free hours, in the moments of day dreaming, on the weekends, in the evenings, on bus rides and airplanes? There is so much to create! So much to build, and see, and learn! How in the WORLD would I ever be able to pick just one? I already have a list a mile long of things I am just bursting at the seams to do and create and build. And the list keeps growing.
And maybe one day I will find my thing. And stick to it forever. But for right now, I have lots of things. A whole, whole bunch of them. And I give myself permission to keep on going like that for as long as I like.
Because what is life, if not filled with joy? As long as you follow the big three, above, really, no one cares what you do in your spare time! No one! So why not do exactly what you would love to do, exactly when you want to do it?
So, what about you? What do you need permission to do? Why are you waiting?! I’ll give it to you. If you can’t, I will give you permission. Go ahead. Do! Everything is going to be just fine.