Let the fireworks begin. To mark this Fourth of July, I’m making my personal declaration of independence from the tyranny of other people’s expectations, adhering to passé assumptions and harboring negative emotions.
I therefore solemnly publish and declare that I have the right to be free and independent from:
Caring so much about what others think
This is a biggie. I’ve spent too much of my life being a people pleaser, and I’m done. Now, I’m not morphing into a sociopath without empathy for others’ feelings, but by age 64, I believe I’ve earned the right to make choices based on what I think, and not live in fear that someone may disagree with or judge me. And yes, I know I ended this post’s headline with a preposition, but I don’t care.
Wearing (too) high heels
Screw fashion. If it’s a choice between living up to women’s magazines’ dictates or being able to walk without looking like I have a load in my pants, I choose the latter. I’m also not going to risk throwing my back out, or falling and breaking a hip, just to look au courant.
A daily dose of network news
Amid the craziness our move last year, Hubs and I got out of the daily habit of watching the morning talk shows and evening news. And guess what—we don’t miss it one bit. In fact, life’s a whole lot less stressful without all that negativity (not to mention the freakin’ drug ads) bombarding us at the start and end of every day. Whew.
Feeling compelled to finish books I don’t enjoy
Sometimes a book just doesn’t draw me in. My rationale for forcing myself to read it anyway has been, “Well, I spent good money on this book so I should finish it.” Well, that money’s gone either way, so why should I also waste my time?
Shopping as entertainment
“I’m bored; I think I’ll go to [some store] and look around.” This has been my M.O. for way too long, and about the only thing it has enriched is my credit card company. After purging closets in advance of our move—and realizing how much money I wasted on things I didn’t need—I’m done with buying stuff because I don’t have anything better to do. I could read a book I like instead.
The assumption that the more something costs, the better it must be
This is closely related to the previous item. Yes, I know the adage “You get what you pay for” is true in some situations. But not always. All too often, we pay a premium for a popular brand when a generic or less-heavily marketed version works just as well. Wearing or driving expensive brands doesn’t mean you’re a better person. It just means you spent more money. And I don’t care.
Sure, there are things I’ve done in my life that I regret. When appropriate, I’ve made amends. But it makes no sense to consume my present moments feeling upset about something in the past I can’t change. Until and unless I deliberately do something horrendous, I’m not going to feel guilty (and should this happen, I likely will have turned into a sociopath and so wouldn’t feel guilty anyway).
Arguing with asshats
Sometimes there’s an opportunity for people on opposite sides of an issue to learn something from each other. Or to civilly agree to disagree. But when someone’s not even willing to listen to another point of view (a form of asshattery, IMO), I’m not going to waste my breath, or get upset that I can’t sway him or her to my way of thinking. I’d rather just say, “Well, that’s an interesting perspective” and walk away. (Actually, I’d like to say, “You’re an asshat” and walk away.)
Going to concerts
When it comes to attending concerts by bands I like, I’m giving up the ghost. Really good seats cost way too much. The crowds make me feel almost claustrophobic, especially when it’s time to leave. I inevitably have to pee during the event and bathrooms at most venues are disgusting. There’s invariably a drunken a-hole nearby who has to sing along—loudly and badly—and/or get up and dance and block my view. My ears are ringing afterward because the sound’s so loud. I’d rather watch a well-produced video of the band’s performance or just stream the songs I like from Pandora or Spotify. You’re probably thinking I’ve turned into an old fart. Well, in this regard, you’re right. And I don’t care.
Saying I’m sorry when I’m not
This is largely a female thing, and we say it when it’s not even warranted—like when expressing an opinion (“I’m sorry, but I think this is the fastest route downtown”) or making a simple, declarative sentence (“I’m sorry, but this isn’t what I ordered”). It’s so ingrained we’re usually not even aware we’re doing it. Well, I’m doing my damnedest to be aware. And stop it. Except when I really am sorry. Which should be less often because I’m not going to care as much what other people think.
It all comes down to defining how we want to live our lives—saying no to the things we don’t want in it, and yes to the things we do—inspiring this hauku:
has the power to set us
free. Ironic, huh?
So what about you? What do you want to declare your independence from? What have you already cut loose? What boundaries have you set? Please share!