My second post ever was about my epiphany that life doesn't come with a rulebook. (Wow, it's so painfully awkward to read back over old posts.) But I just want to expand on that a little bit today.
I constantly read about people who do (or don't do) things because they think they should (or shouldn't). It bugs me. I don't know if anyone (myself included at times) ever fully grasps the fact that we don't have to do things a certain way or in a certain order. There will always be pressure to comply with something.
It is not uncommon for me to hear or read statements like the following on a near weekly basis...
"I don't really want to go to college, but I have to if I want to get a good job and make my parents proud."
"Welp, would you look at that? I'm almost sixteen. It's about time to get my license and start job hunting."
"I really like this guy, but I'm going to wait for him to make the first move. Girls aren't supposed to make the first move. It doesn't work that way."
"I lost my job, and now I have no choice but to move back in with my parents. I'm supposed to have my shit together by now. They'll think I'm such a failure when I show up at their door with all my stuff."
"All my friends are (married, living on their own, working full time, having children, etc.). I guess I should get on the bandwagon before I get left behind."
Any of this sound familiar? Look at all those "shoulds" and "supposed to's."
These would be my responses to each of the above quotations:
To the first one: The only person who will have to live with the choices you make is YOU. If you really don't want to go to college, you don't have to go. I'm sure you're a very bright and ambitious person, and you will find a way to make your parents proud anyway. But you have to make yourself proud first. (And contrary to highly popular belief, you do NOT need a college degree to get a good job. Ask any number of successful people.)
To the second one: Cool story bro. Is there a special mark on your life calendar that says that, or do you just want to do those things because that's what everyone else is doing?
To the third one: Says who?? Don't wait for a train that might never come. That dude could be the love of your life, but you'll never know unless you talk to him. Just go for it.
To the fourth one: Experiencing a minor setback does not make you a failure. Your parents love you and will be happy to help you out until you figure out your next move. Take this time to spend quality time with them and do some soul searching. Sometimes being unemployed is a blessing in disguise. You might not realize that now, but maybe someday you will.
To the fifth one: Progress at your own rate. Just because someone else is doing or accomplishing something that you haven't done or accomplished yet doesn't mean you're getting left behind. You are exactly where you need to be. Don't force yourself to be somewhere else before you're ready.
Let's ditch the invisible rulebook, you guys. The only thing you should be listening to is your gut. It will take you where you need to go, but you have to trust it. Even if it defies the "rules." You may question it sometimes. You may ignore it sometimes. You may run into seemingly insurmountable obstacles because of it sometimes.
But at the end of the day, it knows what it's doing. And it's working hard to pave the path that only you can walk.