Guilt is not the most glamorous topic to talk about, but it needs to become a part of our popular narrative because it can drive a person nuts. Mostly we feel guilty when we fail to meet some sort of requirements imposed on us by ourselves or by others. And even in this epoch of self-exception and pride, we still find ourselves guilty for whatever thing we didn’t do right yet again. Missing someone’s birthday, not being a good enough daughter/son/friend/citizen/you name it, not working hard enough, not resting enough, etc.. So today, let’s reduce the amount of guilt that we feel by at least one percent and stop sending others on guilt-trips as well. Because, let’s face it, this whole blame game thing is not going to make anyone any happier.
1. Not giving up to FOMO
FOMO (The fear of missing out) is what gets you to drop an amazing book, leave your fluffy armchair, spill that tea into the sink and go out to get drunk yet again and pretend you’re having the time of your life. Because what if that routine bar crawl ends up being the kind of night people write books about? Well, maybe. But people also write books about gentle evenings in armchairs, sipping tea, reading something truly breathtaking. It’s ok to say no. And it’s ok not to have any external reasons to say no. Remember the famous quote by Phoebe Buffay from “Friends”? “I wish I could, but I don’t want to.” Not doing the things that most people find exciting does not make you a boring person. It’s a sign that you know yourself well enough to distinguish things that are considered to be cool from things that are cool for you.
2. Not staying in touch with old friends
“Hey, long time no see, we should meet for coffee sometimes, catch up and all…”. And then you never do. Because you don’t want to, and when you do, the awkward pauses are so thick; you can almost touch them. Because once upon a time, you were friends and you enjoyed the same things and shared a similar point of view. Now, you’re different. And it’s ok. There’s no need to try desperately to salvage friendships that were built on fragile foundations of high school or college drama and the thrill of smoking cigarettes behind the corner. There are only so many old stories you can share every time you meet. And with some people, those stories are everything you have left in common. Some friendships don’t need to be salvaged. Some friendships turn into a good memory that makes you smile. Sometimes, that’s enough.
3. Not being able to make others understand your choices
People judge. That’s what they do. Sometimes they can come at you with a force that’s almost destructive. They criticize you so intensely; you may think that they spent days thinking about your situation. But they didn’t. They just have a very strong idea of what the right way to do things is, and they can use that idea to criticize everything that doesn’t fit their criteria. We all have these ideas and norms that we created for ourselves or learned from someone else. And we do impose them on others. Some, more intensely than others. But when it comes to making choices that seem natural to you but shocking for others, you don’t have to alter yourself to fit their frames. Explaining is fine as long as your explaining your choices to someone, and they’re listening to your stories to understand you and discuss things with empathy, not to judge. But if judging is all that you’re going to get, feel free to leave, nobody needs that kind of negativity anyway.
4. Dealing with the hard stuff in your way
The day my mother died, I had a rehearsal for a show. The next day I performed. That’s what she would’ve wanted. That’s what my heart told me to do. There’s no right way to deal with shitty stuff. You don’t have to do what people expect you to do. If you lose someone or something, you’re allowed to disappear for a while, hideaway on your planet. You’re also allowed to go out and have fun and get lost in the crowd. Your heart will lead the way. And it doesn’t beat for the perception of others. Because way too often, that perception is quite heartless.
This one sums up all of these points. We change. We work on ourselves and discover new ways over and over again. Sadly, way too often, the ones who make it hard to change are those closest to us. They have this rigid view on us that we have to face every time we meet them. Everyone seems to believe they can change, but others simply stay the same. That’s not the case. You don’t have to stick to your old self just to please others. Change means growth. And no amount of shitty gossip and rants should prevent you from growing.
Live and let live.