I Should vs I Want

23 Jul

This last session was particularly rough. I left feeling very emotional with my stomach in knots. The changes that Amy had presented that I needed to make were the ones I had feared. I had now been told, by someone who had years of education and was certified on the matter, that I needed to start thinking more about myself than others.

I told Amy about the time I went to Canada to meet an online friend for the first time. I told her how before we had left for the airport on my final day there that he had asked me to stay, and I had said no, because of the job I was supposed to starting the following week. The one that everyone was so proud I had gotten. The one that everyone said was an amazing opportunity for someone just out of community college. The one that my previous employer had helped me get. So, I went home and started that job. Three years later I still regret not staying in Canada and wonder what would have happened if I had. I comfort myself by saying it would have probably been disastrous. I probably wouldn’t have found a job or been able to get a work visa, and thus would have had to come back to the states with nothing to show for it. It might have spelled the end to my long time friendship, the stress of the situation eventually making us hate each other. It could have ended horribly.

But would it have been better to take the chance then to wonder? Would I have always been sad I didn’t take this “amazing opportunity” to work at this job in an industry I didn’t even want to continue on in?

Who knows, really.

This is one of just many things I haven’t done due to my desire to please everyone around me. I can’t stand the thought of letting others down, and I knew if I didn’t come home to start that job a lot of people would have been very unhappy and disappointed in me.  I am quickly approaching 30, and it seems like every day I think of one or two things that I wish I had the courage to do. Those one or two things are always quickly strangled by the thoughts of taking care of other people that I love, how my choices would effect them and their lives, and how selfish a person I must be for even thinking about doing the things I want to do.

I feel absolutely and totally selfish just attempting to figure out what it is I actually want out of life. What I want to do.  The words I and want just seem like such a horrid combination. I feel sick uttering them in my head. They are quickly replaced by I should and I ought and I must, the three phrases that Amy has told me I need to keep out of my thought processes and replace with I want or I will if I feel like it. I must say, this was much easier for the little every day things. But replacing my shoulds with wants for the big, life changing stuff is quite the emotional ordeal. My stomach is in knots and I don’t  even want to try to  think about it. I am terrified of doing what I want to, lest I fail and know that I should have just listened to everyone else.

With the fear, I am also a little excited. How amazing would it be to just make a decision based on what I want and how I feel and not have to take everyone I’ve ever met and what they would think about it into consideration? How freeing would that be? How amazing would that feel? How much happier would I be? Would I be happy with the failure if it was my failure for once and no one else’s? Looking back on life, have I ever really failed so disastrously that it is anything really to be afraid of to begin with?

There are so many questions in my head. So many doubts. My mind doesn’t even know where to start in processing this concept. This blog entry has helped sort out the chaos slightly, but it’s still a muddled pool of confusion in my brain.  This is going to be the hardest part of my therapy, but it might be the key to getting past the other problems of anxiety, depression, and perfectionism in the end.

Time to practice my deep breathing again.


Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Mental Health


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 responses to “I Should vs I Want

  1. DJ (@Yume_Kai)

    July 23, 2012 at 8:19 am

    One of the hardest things to do is live our lives for ourselves. There are times when we have to make decisions based on the needs of others (if we have children, or if we have committed to an obligation that leaves others in a bad spot if we bail out, etc) but that’s different than basing our decisions on what others think we should do or who they think we should be.

    Some of the best things I have ever done are the things that terrified me. Sometimes they worked out, sometimes they didn’t. But there is a satisfaction in having the guts to do it at all, regardless of end result. Don’t feel selfish about it. It is YOUR life. My daughter is not currently going the direction I would choose for her but it is her life and she has every obligation to herself to go her own path. As long as she pays her bills and doesn’t hurt people I will always stand by her. You have people who will stand by you (if not family, at least friends. If not, you need new friends.)

    I’m also gonna toss this out there.. don’t regret decisions you made in the past. It will lead to a life of misery. “If only” is one of the worst forms of self-torture out there. You deserve a less complicated life than that.

    • River Hawthorn

      July 24, 2012 at 6:44 am

      Thanks DJ 🙂 The worst part is that I know it is unhealthy and making me unhappy to live my life the way others expect me too. I am so afraid of failure (perfectionism) and the disappointment of others (social anxiety) that it’s very, very hard to make my brain do anything other then listen to everyone else. It makes me sad, because a part of me knows the decisions I make for myself would probably not be any worse then those made by other people. I’m bright enough to know a bad idea (most of the time 😉 ) when I see it, so it’s not like I’d go off and do incredibly stupid things.. At the same time, I don’t have the self esteem to believe that my ideas are “better for me” then those of others who are supposedly older and wiser.

      It’s rough and no matter how I look at it, it will be a painful journey to get over this one. I appreciate the words of encouragement and wish I had as much courage as your daughter! You are an awesome mom to support her in what she’s doing, despite it not being what you thought she should do. Great mom’s make great kids, and I bet your kids are amazing ❤ ^_^


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