This is a battle I wage daily in my own head. So many decisions I make are mulled over with all possible considerations – the outcome, what could happen along the way, what my friends may think – and I am working on changing this behavior within myself. After all, this is my life and I only get one shot, so why make any choices based on what others may think instead of what I think? I have gotten very good at taking quiet time, taking time for myself, increasing the amount of down time I have in my day. But one thing I haven’t gotten very good at is making decisions solely for me – and that is going to change this year.
Why do we let what others think of our decisions dictate our life? Why do we live somewhere we may not want to or live a certain lifestyle we may not be interested in? Are we afraid of being judged? I know that’s my problem that I am working on for myself, finally, at 37 years old. I was thinking of getting rid of a piece of furniture in my house this weekend that I really had no use for anymore. While contemplating what to do with it, I heard a little bird in my ear say “But you paid so much for it! Why would you get rid of that? That’s just wasting money!“. I had to really work hard to push aside that voice and decide for myself what was right for me. Not for anyone else – for me and me alone. Too often, many of us make decisions like this based on what others think is right because we are afraid of what they may say about our own choice. And this is no way to live, and I am just beginning to figure out my own way of dealing with those feelings.
Take wedding registries, for example. Most everyone who gets married ends up filling up gift registries for stuff that wedding guests can purchase for them. Extra set of “good” dishes? Check. Bar ice buckets and fancy potholders? Check. I fell for it too. We were “supposed” to register for another set of dishes – “It’s what everyone does!”. So we did. And ended up with another full set of dishes that sat unused for the better part of 4 years, until they came in handy in the divorce. (But that’s an entirely different subject on simple living, isn’t it? 🙂 ) After it was all said and done, we kinda looked at each other and said “why do we need all this stuff? why didn’t we just ask for cash so we could put it in a savings account or towards something more expensive?” I am not begrudging the fact that we got gifts for our wedding, but rather we fell into the same trap that most everyone does – it’s what you do when you get married, that’s why. And because we let other people influence our choice, our houses fill up with dishes, appliances, and pot holders that never get used. AKA unnecessary clutter and maintenance.
If you haven’t started already, it’s time to start living your life – not someone else’s. Sure, they may not agree with your choices. And you may have to fight the urge to tell them off if so. But this is your time on earth, and you only get one shot. So who’s going to call the shots? You? Or them? It’s your choice.
Sit on that chair thought for 60 days…. if you still want to toss it, then do…. I just find it is best not to do things totally on impulse like that… or move it somewhere out of the way – like in a closet…. and then if there is still no need for it, again, toss it…. Give yourself some time to think about it tho…. geez, what’s the hurry! And maybe in the process you can find a good home for it… 🙂 with someone else who needs it.
I think with age comes confidence in one’s own decision making process – and from that comes that “Ok to do it without someone’s else’s permission or ok” process.
Sometimes tho it is good to throw an idea out there and get some feed back…. not that you have to follow someone else’s advice, but they may have an outlook on something that you haven’t thought of… kind of a make sure you have all your bases covered before you do something deal…
I loved your comments on wedding registries. I purchased a stand mixer recently (refurbed and half price) and my mother noticed it on my counter. Her comment, “You should ask for those things on a wedding registry rather than buying them yourself.”
Why should I wait several years to make a purchase that greatly benefits me now just because its a “wedding registry” item. Further, its unlikely that someone purchasing off of a registry would search for a refurbished item to give (though I wish things would trend that way.)
And preferably, I don’t care to even have a wedding registry. I like to purchase high quality, functional items. I would never impose on my relatives to purchase an expensive knife set that I will never need to replace. Instead, I would likely list something cheaper that isn’t going to last past next Christmas. It would be so wasteful. I would prefer no gift and a heartfelt card to something that has a very short useful life.
I hear you. We are planning kid’s birthday, and we have asked guests to show up, no gifts, no gift cards, just come and have fun. I feel so light and happy to have simple party without getting bunch of toys for kids that we do not want or need.
It is hard for some people to just show up. Let’ see how this goes.
This is the most “spot” on post.
I say yes to carving out the sort of life YOU want, not what someone else wants or think you should want.
I studied Marketing because a friend recommended it. Luckily this was a great fit for me, but really what a reason to commit to something! Duh.
I ride my bike and do yoga, and I love my life. I am a very lucky woman and very thankful for what I have.
I am grateful that I get to wake up each day and live MY life.
Thanks for a great blog. Its one of my fav’s.
Sara (Sydney Aust)
Absolutely agree! It is so tough to go against the grain, go against perceived expectations. I think fear has a lot to do with it – what if I fail because I chose a different path? What if I don’t live the best life I can because I take too many chances?
Actually, maybe I should scrap that last sentence. I think I’ll live a better life if I take some chances!
Wedding registry is a good example, and one I am currently grappling with too!
In regards to the wedding registry, just out of curiosity, how old were you when you got married? I don’t know if it makes a difference, but we were in our 30s when we got married. We use everything we put on our registry. I just wonder if getting married a little older makes you a little more aware of the things you actually need. By the way, I use my bar ice bucket! 🙂
I was in my early 30’s. 🙂
So much for that theory!
“I was thinking of getting rid of a piece of furniture in my house this weekend that I really had no use for anymore. While contemplating what to do with it, I heard a little bird in my ear say “But you paid so much for it! Why would you get rid of that? That’s just wasting money!“. I had to really work hard to push aside that voice and decide for myself what was right for me.”
Since I’ve been purging my entire household the last week or so, I’ve constantly had this pop into my mind. Standing on the divide between chucking something because it is useless but, on the other hand, it was a bit of money is something that I constantly battle. Eventually though, it does get dumped. You know why? Because I know that with each wasted item I purchased with hard-earned money, it becomes a harsh lesson on stupid consumerism. It’s like a small punishment that makes me realism why I was being bad – and the best thing? It prevents me from spending frivolously again.
Great post. I am older than you and still struggle with doing what I want instead of what I “should” do or what others think I “should” do. People, especially family, can be so judgmental.
“We act out of our insecurities” is one of my favorite sayings and I believe that is what is going on when we are told what to do.
I think living for you vs. others is a continual life balance. Sometimes I feel selfish when I’m not doing enough for others or at least feeling compassion for their situation. It can be an emotional struggle sometimes. However, I’m slowly getting rid of guilt that comes from not ‘caring’ enough about another person and replacing it with general happiness and well-wishes for them. Actions still speak louder than words or feelings, too.
As for the wedding registry, my hubby and I wanted a debt-free and clutter-free wedding. So, we didn’t set up a registry at all, but directed gift inquiries to my mother. Some folks gave cash, others donated money to our favorite charities, and we got some tickets and wine. It was great and didn’t bring a whole lot of clutter into our home. The best wedding gift was beginning our married life with no additional debt!