I want to tell you something very important. Despite the fact that I have absolutely zero professional qualifications other than having lived in this word for 31 years, I need you to tell you this:
There is no absolute formula for how to live a life. There is no rule book. You create your own life.
I won’t even say a good life or a successful life because all those things are universally debatable. We, as humans, love to tell other humans, “Look! I’ve figured it out. This is how you do it.” We love self-help and self-improvement. Humans take note and follow until something else comes along. We hold up these ideas and say “THIS! THIS IS IT.” Sometimes it is and sometimes it is absolutely the worst thing for us.
For much of my life, I told myself there was a way to do it. A formula. If you check these boxes, you have done well at life and you get a sticker from the universe for doing life the right way. Except, the universe has no stickers to give out. The fact that the universe isn’t giving my damn “you did good” sticker drives me nuts. (Yes, I know that you should do good things simply for the doing of them not because you expect to get something out of it. The point of the essay is not that I expect to be congratulated for trying to be a good person (because I don’t) but that I seem to be under the impression if I follow the rules that I will find happiness.)
Here I was doing exactly what I thought I was supposed to do and I wasn’t happy. But I was doing all the things I was supposed to do, right? So, what gives? Writing this now, I realize just how strange it all sounds. I think that if I follow the rules I make up and do the things I’m supposed to then I will be happy and when I deviate from the rules I panic real hard. Like, I hyperventilate and cry real, real hard because I think somewhere in my mind I believe that I’m bad. I know this stems from some unresolved issues, but I started to realize that I have permission to live my life exactly the way I want as long as I’m not hurting anyone else or myself.
There’s no secret recipe. There is no formula. There is no plan (or you can make a plan and watch it get destroyed, I guess). We love to think there is. We love inspo, fitspo, self help books, memes with those damn instructions on how to do life. We love that inspirational shit where there is a happy ending and the person succeeds and we all cry. But sometimes that doesn’t happen and that’s ok. Sometimes we fail real hard and it breaks us. But, we need to be able to fail to understand the capacity of joy when we do succeed.
We are supposed to self-care, succeed, do something we love, make money, fall in love, get married, have an instagram-able life, be fit, travel, and do all this other shit. Or at least that’s how it feels to me and I spend a lot of time convinced I’m not doing it right.
But no one says: just do your life the way you want and fuck all that other noise.
So, I’m saying it. To me. To you. Just do your life on your terms. That doesn’t mean it will be easy or that people will understand but that’s ok. We aren’t cookie dough made for cookie cutters. Life is both long and short, messy and beautiful, terrible and wonderful, and full of love and heartbreak.
In the midst of all the things you’ll face, at least just do what makes you happy no matter how fleeting and try not to be an asshole. You have my permission (if you need it).