Overcoming the Shoulds

Posted: May 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

Oh dear.  I’ve become a Creaster of the writing world.  A Creaster, my Roman Catholic friend tells me, is a parishioner who goes to church only on Christmas and Easter.  Well, it seems I blog only when I feel obligated.  Not good.  Not good at all.  I am a *writer*, after all.  I should be blogging all over the place.

I’ve been dealing with “shoulds” all of my life.  I’ve heard them from family and friends, teachers and pastors.  I’ve always taken them to heart, thinking that others must know better than I.  That’s what a low self-image does to a person; my feelings and thoughts are unimportant in the grand scheme of things.  I don’t know what’s good for me, so I listen with extreme care to what others tell me and follow their guidance which actually, when I go back and consider it, comes off as a directive.

The biggest “should” of my life changed its course forever.  I often wonder where I would be today had I stood up for myself and followed my own heart.  My dream, all of my life, since I was 8, had been to become a zoologist.  To this day, my first and true passion is animals.  I’m not much of a people person, although my professional life is filled with them and I excel at serving them and solving their problems.  But back when I was thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had no doubt that the only thing that would make me truly would be to work in some capacity with animals. 

My dad had other plans for me.  He was domineering, verbally and psychologically abusive, and had a kind of control over me that is difficult for some to understand.  I think in many ways and on some very deep level, I was terrified of him.  He was also, I am convinced, crazy, in small, quiet ways, and extremely unpredictable; I was on constant alert while still living in his house, and remained hypervigilant years after moving out.

Dad was a physician’s assistant and, from all accounts, a very good one.  He had left the post office when I was young, returned to school, and begun over in a new career.  As I was preparing for college, he decided that I needed a “back-up” plan for the zoology.  That I wasn’t good enough to get a job after graduation in zoology, so I should first obtain something I could fall back on when I didn’t make it in that field.  He pounded  this into me every chance he got, and by the time I was ready to make a decision about college, I believed it.  My first degree was an ADN  in Nursing.

Of course, he never told me that he wasn’t going to help pay for school, or that he wasn’t going to give me his financial information so I could get financial aid.  So  not only did I end up in a field I really didn’t want to be in, but I ended up paying for all of it myself.

That was over 30 years ago, and I have just now begun to see how I can take control of my life and begin fulfilling some of those dreams I lost so long ago.  I’m very careful about using *should* these days, or at least a lot more aware of its ability to influence my course of action.  And this blog?  Well, I’ve decided to keep it up, not because I should, but because it’s helping me fulfill one of my dreams.  And that is totally ok.  🙂

  1. Rebecca says:

    Like you, I am somewhat allergic to the word “should.” I try to catch myself when I use it, qualify it, or just avoid it. Sometimes I trick around it with “behoove” as in “It would behoove you to…” rather than “should.” Semantics, but important to consider.

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