Not every story needs to be told when it’s all over
I read this article recently that talks about the difference between Must and Should. It’s a fantastic read, but in case you don’t have time (medium estimates it’s a 20 min read), here’s my favourite part:
"Should is how others want us to show up in the world — how we’re supposed to think, what we ought to say, what we should or shouldn’t do. It’s the vast array of expectations that others layer upon us. When we choose Should the journey is smooth, the risk is small.
Must is different—there aren’t options and we don’t have a choice.
Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self. It’s our instincts, our cravings and longings, the things and places and ideas we burn for, the intuition that swells up from somewhere deep inside of us. Must is what happens when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own. Because when we choose Must, we are no longer looking for inspiration out there. Instead, we are listening to our calling from within, from some luminous, mysterious place.”
I spent 27 years of my life doing everything that I Should. I listened to my
parents, worked hard in school, got a degree, met someone who I expected to marry, got a job and waited to feel fulfilled. Happy.
Happiness never came.
My boyfriend of 5.5 years broke up with me. I was miserable at my first job. My thesis advisor was pressuring me to go back to school, but I felt like I had nothing left to give in academia. Every day, I felt more detached from everyone and everything around me until I was numb. And then I’d cry about the fact that I was numb and wonder why I felt this way.When I tried to explain my feelings to some of my closest friends, the would respond by telling me that I was selfish and needed to wake up and realize how lucky I really had it.They were right. I am very lucky. I try to keep perspective every day and realize that by growing up in Canada, I’m extremely priviledged.
I’ve read the same inspirational story over and over again. They read like this: I knew I was meant for something greater, so I took a risk and went for it. It was hard, but look at me now! I am a millionaire because I followed my dream and it led me to money.
Well? I sure as hell don’t have a similar story to tell. I’m pretty sure nothing I have done in the last two years could be considered inspiring. I didn’t do it for that reason. I didn’t choose my path because I was expecting a great reward. I did it because trying to excel at all the things I Should be doing was eating away at my core and I was screaming for change. Feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, unable to be happy with the life you’ve built for yourself is incredibly exhausting and depressing. How I wish I could be content with the things I have built for myself. How I wish I didn’t feel incapable of following the path I SHOULD be following. I looked everywhere for answers - my parents, my friends, even religion. I just couldn’t shake the fact that I was miserable and needed a change.
Why did I quit my well-paying job to pursue a business that is known for insane hours and very little return? Because I needed to. I needed to see what would happen if I went down that path and followed my heart. So, in the end, it didn’t work out. At least not in a long-lasting kind of way. I baked until my heart wasn’t in it anymore. When that happened, I had to pull the plug.
I wish I was in a place where I could write a happy ending. I’m not. But, not every story needs to be told when it’s all over. Not every story has a happy ending. For whatever reason, I feel the need to write. I have to continue doing the things that I Need to be doing. Some day, this old heart of mine will lead me to wherever I’m supposed to go. I have to believe that to keep going.
So this is my story. And every day, I’m learning to be grateful that it is mine to tell. Heart, don’t fail me now.