I didn’t start out as a particularly easygoing person. I’m the eldest of three, and I had an easy time settling comfortably into my role as militant firstborn — I was in the business of following the rules. It was the right thing to do, first of all, not to mention the fact that I could think of nothing in this world more terrifying than getting in trouble for doing something wrong.
So, as the years went on, I perfected the art of Being Good. And not only this, but I made sure to uphold others to my rigid standards. This meant that if you committed some egregious error such as getting a speeding ticket, cheating on your diet, or drinking until you puked your guts out at your cousin’s wedding, I’d roll my eyes and judge the hell out of you.
I’m non-confrontational, so don’t get me wrong — you wouldn’t hear anything from me about it. But you could rest assured that you’d just knocked yourself down a notch in my books. (Yeah. I was fun like that.)
Another thing I got really good at was holding grudges. I was not an empathy machine or a grace factory — rather, I excelled in being bullheaded, in building a strong outer shell and in crossing you off the list of people I needed in my life if you transgressed me in a deep or cutting way. I refused to explore what forgiveness really was, and I was okay knowing that all the garbage things that happened in my life served in some way or another to build me up.
I was a predominantly private person. Things were what they were. And I was managing just fine.
Except I was ignoring one tiny consideration: that business is EXHAUSTING. It was downright backbreaking having to hold so much responsibility, resentment, and disdain on my shoulders. It took me more than three decades to realize it, but I know now this one and very important thing: that I’m better off sloughing off that former version of myself and moving forward with all the wayward ideas and nasty habits I should’ve picked up as a teenager living the life of Riley.
Forgive, because it’s good for YOU. Jump around on your furniture because the floor is lava. Buy the fancy soap. Wear the bikini. Go get your eyebrows microbladed, maybe? I don’t know; it’s your life. Just go live it, please.
Forever feels like a long time, I know; and permanence sounds like a really daunting concept. But hear me when I tell you these two things: forever will long outlast your fleeting and beautiful existence, and nothing about who you are or what you do will ever be permanent; you’ll maybe live, oh, seven or eight decades on this planet before your body lets go — and away with it will disappear every choice you made, whether responsible or reprehensible. Given the nature of this — of the ephemeral nature of our being — I think it’s high time we stop taking ourselves quite so seriously.
You just won’t ever convince me that being uptight or inhibitive is the right way to be. This life just isn’t long enough.
So do the thing, will you? You know what I’m talking about. Do the thing you’ve been thinking about — the thing you’ve been afraid of, wary of or unsure about. Just try it.
Let your preconceptions go. Quit harboring bitterness. Have fun with your body. Crack open a beer or step outside for a smoke if that’s your thing. Binge-watch your favorite TV shows. Storm through the woods and get your boots dirty. Show affection and express love. Forgive, because it’s good for YOU. Jump around on your furniture because the floor is lava. Buy the fancy soap. Wear the bikini. Go get your eyebrows microbladed, maybe? I don’t know; it’s your life. Just go live it, please.
There aren’t enough hours in the day to invest so much energy into being a version of yourself you aren’t completely sure you want to be. So ignore anyone who’s raising their own microbladed eyebrow at you and dive head-first into everything you’ve been dreaming about.
This, dear reader, is your permission slip. You don't need it, but if it helps you let go — take it.