11 Things You're Allowed To Do No Matter What Other People Think
Hear ye, hear ye! I officially declare this the glorious start of the "I don't care what you think" phase of your life. Unless you were already in that phase, in which case, here's a fist bump and a celebratory bottle of wine. Or some rent money. Side note: I'm not really giving you any money.
Anyway, where was I? When we're young, we're expected to worry about what our parents think and what our teachers think. And then we're thrust into the world as professional pleasers with no training on how to set some boundaries or practice some key elements of self care. We worry about what others think when we shop for clothes, decorate our homes, post selfies, pick careers... the list is endless.
But what if I told you you're not ever required to care about what people think? As in, never ever? It's true. When I worked as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I taught so many couples that they don't have to do things to please others, like get married, have kids, or even stay together. It's a whole other level of freedom. But you can't conqueror the whole world in one day. So here are 11 things to start with.
1. Dump Someone
Newsflash, you don't have to be with anyone you don't want to be with, for any reason, ever. If anyone says to you, "but they're so nice to you, you have kids together, they make good money, you're not getting any younger," or any of that other garbage people tell you when they're trying to control your life without realizing it, just say sarcastically, "You're right, I do deserve to be unhappy just because I'm..." They'll usually shut up. You don't need a reason or anyone's approval to end a relationship or remove someone from your life. Period.
2. Not Be Friends With Someone You Hate
Wait, what was it I just said in number one? "You don't need a reason or anyone's approval to end a relationship or remove someone from your life. Period." Yeah, that was it. You don't have to be friends with someone because everyone else in your squad is friends with them, or because you still have to see them all the time. You can be nice and respectful, but you don't have to save room on your roll call for anyone who makes you feel anything but joy. Fact.
3. Wear That Thing You Wanted To Wear
Hello, Internet, here are 20 pictures of me in my bathing suit, in all my fat glory, because IDGAF. That's me. But if that's not you, that's also cool. Body love comes in many forms. One of the forms it should never come in, however, is the one where you don't wear something you love because you're worried about what other people will think. If you want to wear a fanny pack, a backless dress, a bikini, some kind of pattern, do it. If it makes you happy and you're comfortable, then haters to the left.
4. Work It At Work
Your parents wanted you to be a doctor, but the only think you're interested in doctoring is your martini. Or maybe they had high hopes that you'd take over the family business, but you'd rather live in a van and tour the country like an epic nomad. You're allowed to do whatever you want. You are allowed to work anywhere you want. Your parents, family, and friends can put all the expectations they want on you. That's their stuff to deal with. You are absolutely allowed to be anything you want to be, even if what you want to be is something other people like to look down on.
5. Have Or Not Have Kids
If I had a dollar for every time my mother passive aggressively (or straight up aggressively) got on my junk about having babies, I would be writing this from a hammock somewhere south of the equator. But guess what, I don't want to have kids. At least not 'til I master eating food without missing my mouth. Maybe you want to get married and have kids but your family thinks you need to get your Ph.D. first. But last time I checked, your uterus (or your metaphorical uterus, if you're adopting, or dude-identified, or whatevs) is yours. Plus, other people don't have to pay for kids to get, like, braces or whatever. You do. Don't entertain other people's thoughts about your family size for one single second.
6. Move To Russia
Yes, Russia is far away. Yes, Sarah Palin thinks she can see it from her house. Yes, your family and friends will be sad. Plus side: all the boots and cute winter coats you can stand. It's hard to move far away (whether it's to Russia or not), but sometimes it's what you need to do. Your friends and family might have strong feels about it, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. You just need to reassure them that it's not personal. It's not something you're doing to them. It's the decision you need to make for your life right now. Now fly! Be free!
7. Go Shopping
Unless you owe someone money, you don't have to justify what you spend your cash on, regardless of what anyone thinks. Have you ever heard someone in your circle say something like, "Oh, that's a nice dress, I guess we're not working on our savings goals anymore." Psh. Please. You don't know my life. Your money scandal is yours to handle, and as long as you're handling it (and most of the time, even if you're not) nobody gets to have an opinion about the number of packages on your doorstep. Well, they can have an opinion. You just don't have to care about it.
8. Have Negative Feelings
Human beings get sad, or angry, or petty, or jealous. It's the natural spectrum of human emotion. So why is everyone always trying to make us be happy, not express our anger, not bring everyone down with our sadness, or not admit when we're depressed? You don't have to say you're too busy to go out. You can say, "I can't go to the club tonight because I had a really bad day and what I need is to stay home and get my sadness out." Own your feelings.
9. Ruin Your Life
We all make mistakes. That's how we learn. Mistakes are part of a life well lived. People who love us are often obsessed with helping us avoid mistakes, and that's great. But sometimes we have to learn by doing. Sometimes you have to let us get married when we're 20, or co-sign a loan with our partners, or cut our own bangs. We need to. Otherwise we'll miss out on those juicy life lessons.
10. Be Non-Straight
You can be straight and make out with people from all genders, you can be attracted to souls instead of bodies, you can declare that you're not interested in dating anyone, ever. That's all you. Only you get to decide how you identify and whose genitals you want to interact with. It's 2016, and if you're not in danger, just accept that sexuality is fluid for a lot of people. Who cares what people think?
11. Post 30 Billion Selfies
Yas. More! If I could take it to a super serious place right now, I'd like to say, selfies changed my life. My Instagram is a non-stop parade of all kinds of bodies and faces, and it has completely re-wired my brain for what is normal and acceptable. It has really increased my self-esteem and body positivity. So please, post all the selfies you can. I need them. The world needs them. Plus, even if the world didn't need them, it's your face, it's your social media account. You do what you want!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to figure out how to climb down off of this soapbox without breaking my ankles.
Images: Pexels (12)