No more secrets

I grew up a die-hard rule follower.

Crossing the street? I looked both ways. Awake and alone after bedtime? I tucked myself in. Eating a Kit-Kat? I separated them like a civilized person.

I crave to please anyone and everyone under the sun. At least, I use to crave this. One day I realized it’s hard to pull off.

I want to follow other people’s rules. I also want to follow my own, too. How can I pull off both? It’s a difficult compromise.

My way of winning is bending these rules and making up new rules that make everyone else’s rules work with mine.

Yeah. It’s a mess.

Thanks to Jon Acuff’s audio book Finish, I have some fresh and golden advice on this issue. I’m learning how to overcome “secret rules” I’ve been feeding myself forever and a day.

I’ve had little things I’ve spent my whole life holding on to that are pretty stupid but dictate how I engage with little things in the world around me.

For example, I have a 10 second rule for Internet buffering. Whenever a web page struggles to appear immediately, I count “10-Mississippi” out loud. I count slowly. I want to give the page a chance. I do this because, if the page fails me, I’ll never visit it again. I’ve done this for 14 years. Sad, right?

Or think about my “five minutes late or more you skip” excuse I have for lectures. Even if I can make it a couple of seconds after the 5 minute mark, I still won’t walk into class. I fail that day and get breakfast or lunch instead.

My favorite rule is the one I have for working out. If I walk more than a mile or two a day, “that’s my workout!” Here’s the catch: I don’t own a car. I walk everywhere. I walk four to five miles a day. I just don’t want to get the full value out of my gym membership and actually feel good, I guess.

You see, this is why secret rules are pervasive and toxic.

I have many and they manage my life on a micro-level.

The 10 second rule fuels my lack of patience. The five minute rule encourages irresponsibility. The exercise rule supports laziness.

Even more dangerous than behavioral changes is the reason behind my rules. They’re a way to deflect perfection, which I internally crave. My ego aches to be affirmed and told it’s checking all the right boxes of my lists.

As I get older my secret rules get more viscous.

My parents had five kids by 23. I’ve never been in an intimate relationship, let alone considered raising a child. Because of this I feel like I’m only half of the adult I could be right now at the same age as them.

On social media, I’m ridiculously transparent and active. So I share what I eat and drink and love and do. People hate some of those things, though, like when I had an excessive amount of mirror pictures or staged Bible photos. I felt guilty because others didn’t think it was appropriate. So I stopped.

Videography is something I have all of the tools for and know how to make. I have a lot of peers who are younger and do a better job. So I don’t practice because I’m convinced I’m not designed to learn how. This is a lie.

All of these secret rules are an illusion that puts me in control of little things that convince me I’ve got all the macro things under lock and key.

I’m learning to scale back these secret rules.

I’m learning to simply set healthy standards for myself that generate genuine character growth and encourages a wealth of productivity.

I wait about a minute now when a page buffers. I leave more time in my schedule between things so lateness isn’t a concern. I don’t go to bed without exercising for 30 minutes, like it or not.

My 23 is wildly busy and full of adventures I couldn’t have with other little people in my life. I might have a family one day, but my parents 23 can be my 32.

I share this excitement and the things I live through on social media without thinking about my audience first.

Meanwhile, I don’t even think about the things peers are doing better than me because I’ll always do what I do best and I can collaborate with them to witness their specialties.

Secret rules make us something we’re not. Each hold us back. Each makes us strive for perfection even though a lot of us are imperfect perfectionists.

We need to get rid of that perfectionist part of being creative. We need to accept we’re imperfect, and then blow ourselves away with how put together we can really be when we work our asses off for it.

Our secret rules are useless. Let’s kill them now and crush a world we define ourselves daily.