Make your own rules

I’ve always been a people pleaser. As I emerged from the womb, pink-faced and gasping for my first breath, I’m pretty sure I was already scanning the room, trying to figure out how to make those people happy. And that worked out, more or less well, until it didn’t which is, perhaps, the experience of every woman allowed to think for herself.

Here’s the thing: we cannot MAKE other people happy. They are either happy or they are not. This is not actually your responsibility and the really bad news is that in your efforts to please them, you run the danger of re-arranging your beautiful atoms into something resembling a doormat.

This is not a sustainable model for a joyful, thriving life. We’re going to have to learn how to work as hard at pleasing ourselves as we do at pleasing others. Isn’t that both scary and delicious? This is my New Year’s wish for you… that you begin (or continue) to make your own rules. Here are some ideas…

  • Know yourself. There’s no one else quite like you. If you’re an Introvert, you’ll probably need to stay home more than your extroverted friends. Stop apologising for that. Get into your flannel jammies and figure out your own idea of a good time.
  • Get married or don’t. Take your partner’s name or hyphenate or perhaps she or he could take your last name. Have four kids. Choose not to have children at all. Love other people’s kids instead.
  • Ask for the job title of the job you are actually doing. Ask for more money for the work that you do.
  • Dye your hair purple or let your hair grow out white and beautiful.
  • Lead sometimes… and also follow.
  • Buy a tiny house. Rent until you die.
  • When service is bad, speak up. Politely.
  • When the talk at the lunch table is always focused on exercise and “good” and “bad” foods and that’s not your idea of a nurturing conversation, ask if anyone has read any good books lately. Or change lunch tables. Or bring your own lunch and eat in the park.
  • If you are a woman, you already know that being a woman is not fair. How can you help? Where do you need to put your foot down? At our school we teach kids that girls are not things and that it’s not their job to be pretty. Some students don’t believe us but some do… and that might help them get to the good life-stuff faster. That is true for both girls and boys.
  • Make your own church. Choose your own choir. It might be the soundtrack to the Broadway musical Hamilton or Adele’s 25. Celebrate whomever or whatever you’d like ~ in ways that bring you peace and joy.
  • Start talking to strangers. {People are fascinating.}
  • Stop allowing people to treat you in a way that is condescending, hostile or unkind. You deserve better. Say so. Teach the people in your life how to treat you. Treat others with the same respect.
  • Keep every book you have ever read. Give all your books away.
  • You don’t have to be just one thing. You can be a beekeeper and a poet or a carpenter and a philosopher. This is your life.
  • You know that wonderful thing that happens when little kids are allowed to choose their own clothes and they wear a pink tutu with a grey and red woollen hat to school? Guess what? You too can choose the tutu. Striped socks. Red shoes. Audacious Christmas sweaters.
  • Stop giving and receiving Christmas gifts. Give the money to a food bank or take a vacation or use it for a downpayment on a home. Or buy gifts for everyone you know and/or random strangers.
  • Say no. People will not like it at all (they really won’t) and it will be SO good for you. Your no will open up so much gorgeous space for all the YESES about which you feel passionately.
  • Say yes!
  • Let people be mad at you. Stop going over everything that was said in every single conversation. You don’t always have to be the one to smooth things over. Many things pass all on their own; let this thing pass without your intervention. {I know… this one is terribly hard.}
  • Travel the world for two decades. Fall in love with your hometown and never leave.
  • Discover the ways in which you can best contribute to your community and serve others.
  • Publish 25 Instagram shots in one day. Some days are just so glorious that you want to share… so fill yer boots! So what if some people unfollow you?
  • Thank people for their kind advice and then do exactly what you intended to do all along. Or not.
  • Advocate on behalf of others. This is how we make the world better.
  • Do you need all the stuff you have? Give it away. Sell it. Or keep it all.
  • Write true stories. You get to define true.
  • The next time you find yourself arguing about something, ask yourself if you really care about this issue. It’s okay not to have an opinion about which route you take to the airport.
  • You are also entitled to disagree passionately. Burn the metaphorical house down.
  • Find the sacred in the ordinary and the ordinary in the sacred.

My New Year’s wish for you is twofold:
1. May you dive deep into your biggest, wildest dreams for your own life.
2. May you find freedom from caring so much about what others think. People will criticize you anyway so why not live the life you really want and let them criticize that. It will be so much more satisfying.

Happy New Year.

With love, milk and cookies,
Monna McDiarmid

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