Do you ever feel like life is happening to you instead of you taking charge of your choices? Do you feel like life decisions, both big and small are already laid out in front of you because “hey, that’s what everyone else is doing so I should be doing that?”
If so, you are not alone! I have noticed in my own life, and in the lives of my clients and friends who all share a similar socio-economic background, there is a common feeling that since high school your life is road mapped in front of you, full of everything you should be doing and by when. For instance, you should go to college, graduate in 4 years or under, get a well paying job, spend a lot of your excess income on experiences, date a bunch of people, finally decide to settle down, start saving and adulting, get married before you are 30, rescue a dog, buy a house, have kids and work for the rest of your life, and if you are lucky, retire early, finally have a chance to travel more, watch your grandkids grow up and then die. Does any of that sound familiar to you?
Having majored in American Culture, I have always been really interested in studying and observing the societal norms that influence our behaviors and choices. In my recent discussions with people, I notice there is this desire to not “fall into the trap” of living the normal American life. In exploring this topic on my own, I recognize I feel what I call the “wind of shoulds”– that gentle push for people to follow this similar path in life, and it only moves in one direction. And when you have the desire to deviate from the path, the “wind” makes it a lot harder to move. For instance, when I decided to move to Argentina after college with a one-way ticket, it felt like I was doing the craziest thing. Yeah sure, it was way more common for people to take a few months off to travel before jumping into a long-term job, but it was not so common to hear the return date was TBD. Making that choice to move felt so right for me, but there was that wind blowing in my face as I walked in the “wrong direction.” After being married almost 5 months, it is interesting how the “wind of shoulds” have appeared again. I feel the winds pushing us in the direction of adopting a dog or that it is time for a baby. But in fact, that isn’t what my heart is telling me what’s next. Instead, my heart is calling for another adventure, and as my husband and I start to collaborate and dreamstorm, I feel the resistance of the winds blowing in my face.
What this experience is teaching me is to notice whether or not I am paying attention. Am I listening to what my heart really wants versus the shoulds of our culture? I am ever more clear on my wants in this stage of life and learning ways to not let the winds inhibit me from creating what my heart wants.
Are you feeling the “wind of shoulds” pushing you in a direction you aren’t sure you want to take? Are you ready to get clear on what your heart is indeed telling you it wants? If so, celebrate a big milestone birthday and the gift of life with me!
I am gifting the first five people who respond a 1-hour coaching session where you get to decide how much you want to pay for the session and 100% will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Claim your spot here and may we all use the gift of life to live more intentionally.