My nephew is currently fifteen.
He’s in that wonderful phase of being a sponge while also trying to formulate and understand his own ideas of the world. Because of this, little in our conversations goes without long winded discussions and lots of questions.
This weekend he said something that kind of shocked me.
My husband and I and my nephew were all in the car driving to get groceries. The hubby and I were going back and forth about the luxurious things we would have if we made millions. I talked about wanting someone whose only job was to run amazing baths with the perfect amount of bubbles and candlelight. Both boys scoffed and told me how silly that would be.
What a waste of money, they both said.
I let it go because it was extravagant and more playful than anything.
Then, we talked about having personal chefs and cleaners, which are both things we will splurge on now in our budget and this is where it got a little ugly.
I would never hire someone to do the things I should be doing myself, my nephew responded.
Why, I asked.
Because I don’t want to be lazy, he responded.
I about lost my lid. I wanted (and honestly, started) to defend my choices. I wasn’t lazy because hiring a house cleaner kept my husband and I sane, let alone helped keep our marriage together (oh, the cleaning fights y’all). Or how hiring a cook because after working full-time, going to school full-time and running a side business/podcast full-time, left my husband and I very little time to want to cook/clean every night. How could he possibly believe we were lazy because we utilized our skills elsewhere? How were we lazy for prioritizing our time and money based on our values and well being?
I asked follow-up questions. Things like: what are the things you “should” do that you’re talking about? Why are they all forms of labor? Don’t you think it takes skill to do laborious duties?
We chatted back and forth. I became a little defensive. My husband became a little defensive, especially because my husband was a skill laborer for a lot of his young adult life and hated that people thought they could “do it themselves” when clearly they couldn’t. It was a tense moment.
Then, I realized something. Something I deeply wish someone would have told me when I was fifteen. Something I hope will stick and mold his opinions in the future.
I let go of my arguments on why I was right. I let go of being defensive. Because this wasn’t really about my choices. It was about my right to choose them. It was about why you make certain decisions and why they matter.
This is what I told him and feel free to tell anyone you know this too. The world will be a lot better if we all know this in our hearts:
It isn’t about what you “should” do, kid. It’s about what makes you the best possible person you can be. If hiring someone to clean your house, so you can do better at work/school/in your relationships, and it makes you better, you need to hire that person to clean your house. If you absolutely suck at cooking and you hate it everyday of your life, hire someone. If doing either of those things yourself calms you or makes you feel good, do it yourself.
You should never do something because you think you “should”. Letting other people’s judgement control your life, could leave you pretty miserable in the long run. You have to know what you value, what’s worth your time/money/emotions and what isn’t. The only question you should ever ask yourself is if this makes you a better person. If the answer is yes, keep being you. If the answer is no, fix it. You deserve to live however you can best serve yourself, your family and the world. Everything else is just a barrier your making for yourself. Lose it. And don’t worry about what other people think you “should” do. The people that matter won’t care when you’re happy and healthy.
My husband later told me that he wished someone would have told him this. That if he would have learned at a younger age that other people’s hang ups and judgments don’t matter in the long run, he would have a lot less of his own hang ups. I feel the same. I’ve been so worried at times in my life what other people might think that I’ve lost opportunities. I’ve lost years doing things I hate.
Everyone is so scared of other people’s shoulds.
Forget them. They are holding on to their own anchors. Don’t let them take you with. The only real judgment you should make is if someone is being the best they can be. Or are trying to. Are they a good person? Do they have a good heart? Are they working, daily, towards finding their best possible self? Those are the questions we need to ask and evaluate each other on.
By no means does that mean you need to agree with everyone’s choices. But evaluating why people are doing things matters.
It takes all kinds and that means there are a million roads to being at the peak of who we can be.
Find the path that works for you. That fills you with a feeling of rightness. That causes you to pass on your love and kindness and your moments of happiness to others.
I won’t judge you for it.