Of all the limiting words in the English language, “should” is one of the most powerful.
It’s a hard and fast prescription for how things must be. Though I’d say it’s more of a description of how things have been.
You should get this degree to go into that field, feel this way about that thing. You should know better, try harder, understand this, not bother.
It’s not just others who can should us. We can should ourselves, too. And if we blindly go along with all of them, we can get should-ed right out of the big, brilliant life we’ve got in us, for the small, conventional life that should affords.
Which is just not right.
So, here is my Should Manifesto: Anytime someone tells me or I tell me, “You should…” I check myself. Why should I? According to who? And how does this should serve me or the causes I want to move forward?
Reflecting on these helps me decide if this is a should worth listening to. If it is, great and thanks for the sound advice. If it’s not, good to know where should stands, but I’ll go my own way, thanks.
I’m not saying I find this easy; if it were, should wouldn’t be so maddeningly powerful.
But let’s not forget, we are powerful human beings, keepers of big, brilliant life. And when shoulds come a-knocking, I know we have it in us to pause and decide if we want to let them in.