I read a quote this morning by Susan Cain, and it was this-
“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to. Stay home on New Year’s Eve if that’s what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story.”
It was a strange coincidence because yesterday, I had the same thought process. My whole life (and I’ve spoken about this in blog posts over a year ago which you may remember if you’ve followed me for a while) I’ve basically beaten myself up for not being a certain way. I’ve watched other people and lived life believing that I should be a certain thing and act a certain way because that’s the way I’m supposed to be, and then beaten myself up when I don’t fit those guidelines.
I had this thought because yesterday, I was getting my nails done and when the conversation dies down between my nail tech and I, I sit there looking around and people watching. I hate small talk, absolutely hate it, I think it’s so pointless and I’m generally just really bad at it because my brain doesn’t work that way but when you go to these appointments at say, the hair dressers or the nail salon etc. there’s this expectation that you need to keep a conversation going with whoever for the whole duration you’re there.
Not for me.
Like I said, I can’t do small talk and I’m really awful at it but I think there’s always this pressure that we have to do it, and because I’ve never enjoyed it / been able to I guess I always thought there was something socially wrong with me or that I had the inability to speak to people, which isn’t true because I speak to and get on with a lot of people, I’m just not very good at caring about strained conversations involving the weather.
So I had this kind of moment whilst I was sat there people watching, and realising that no one else was really making small talk with their nail tech either and that I in fact wasn’t the only one just sat there in silence. It’s never an awkward silence, but I think the pressure that it somehow needs to be filled ends up making it feel awkward and therefore, it ends up defeating the point.
I’ve seen people vlogging their trips to the hairdressers on Youtube and feeling relieved when they do a timelapse and I realise that they’re actually not in fact laughing and joking with their hairdresser for the whole 3 hours they’re having their hair dyed. It makes me feel normal. I think there’s so much pressure these days to be this larger than life, loud, out there character and because I’m not, it makes me feel like I don’t fit.
Reading that quote today along with the little epiphany I had yesterday made me feel a whole lot better. I sat there and just thought to myself you know what, it’s fine. This is fine. Instead of apologising for not being a certain way how about I just take control of it and own it instead? Instead of feeling inadequate, why don’t I just say well actually, that’s just me.
I think you have to own the things that make you who you are, I’m not a loud and in your face person, I don’t have the energy or concentration span to make pointless conversation, and that’s okay. I’m a people watcher, a wallflower, a huge, huge thinker. I’m in my own head a lot and I only speak if I feel like I have something worth saying. I’m very happy to sit back and allow everyone else to do their thing because I don’t really like attention and I’d rather it always be on someone else instead. I think there’s this whole idea these days – maybe stemming from social media, I’m not sure – that we’re all supposed to do things a certain way because “that’s what the book says”. We all have this idea in our minds that we’re all supposed to adhere to the same schedule and the same life plan, but that isn’t true. Nobody’s life manual is the same. You’re not supposed to have settled down and be married with kids by 30. You’re not supposed to have been and gone to university by age 25. Everyone is different and therefore, so is their life. So is their life plan.
And you don’t even need to have a plan, or a dream, or any of these big things that we’re taught we’re supposed to have. I feel like we’re always forced to dream so big that we put so many expectations on ourselves that then only lead to disappointment when we don’t reach them. From the moment we can talk we’re constantly asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” “what’s your dream?” and we’re forced to think of an answer. I want to be an astronaut. A singer. The President of the United States. Crazy and wild things that when we reach 25 and realise we’re no closer to achieving them than we were when we first said them at the age of 6, we’re made to feel like we’ve failed.
I’m stealing this quote from someone who really opened my eyes a lot recently (sorry Yoongi) but this person said that actually, it’s okay if you don’t have a dream. It’s okay if your dream is what you’re going to eat for dinner in 2 hours or what you’re going to do at the weekend. A dream doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be extravagant, it doesn’t actually need to be anything at all because you don’t even need to have one in the first place. We’re just taught that that’s what we’re supposed to do.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s good to have aspirations and goals, but not to the point where our whole life is based around them and we’re made to feel like a failure if we don’t achieve these unachievable targets we set for ourselves in the first place. I don’t know what my dream is or what this big magnificent thing was that I’ve been put here on Earth to do – sometimes I feel like I’m doing life wrong because I’m not adhering to the manual that was set for us all but honestly, screw that. It makes its way into every aspect of your life – into how you socially conduct yourself at appointments and the answer you give to your teacher when she asks you at age 5 what you want to be when you grow up.
I want to be myself.
Because if I’m being myself, I can never go wrong. I don’t have to worry about the fact I’m not making small talk like others or that I wasn’t the first person to have landed on the moon. I’m just me.
So let’s stop trying to live life like we’re “supposed” to, because what does that even mean.
“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.”
Just do whatever makes you feel comfortable, as long as you stay true to yourself you’ll never go wrong and you’ll always be happy.
I think I just have to learn to accept that I am what I am, it’s okay if I can’t hold a conversation full of small talk for hours on end, it doesn’t make me a bad person if I end up sitting there in silence for a while instead. It’s okay. It doesn’t make me weird or inadequate, it just makes me who I am, and a lot of people love me for that.
And they love you for it, too.
All my love,