Photo Credit

Permission To Exist

Most of the time I can’t help but feel like there is an inescapable pressure on all of us to be great. That we always have to be in search of perfection. That whatever we encounter has to have some important, deeper meaning. That we must constantly struggle against average.

I wouldn’t classify this as perfectionism so much as I think it is a violent contempt of all things ordinary.

It’s not enough to simply exist; it’s about doing or being something incredible all the time.

It’s not about enjoying the moment; it’s about leveraging the moment to our advantage (and then, of course, hunting down the next incredible moment).

But recently, two questions have materialized in my head:

1. How often do we grant ourselves the permission to simply exist?

(Not the permission to try to be great or amazing or anything earth shattering. Simply the permission to be.)

2. How often do we grant our current surroundings the permission to simply exist?

(Not the permission to be mind blowing or life changing or something that we’ll use to make our friends jealous. Simply the permission for our current surroundings to be.)

In my experience, I have rarely granted my surroundings or myself the permission to simply exist. But more than that, I often find that I am actively fighting against existing when it’s not great or amazing or interesting or deeply meaningful. It can even feel like accepting the ordinary makes us boring and unimportant because we are surrounded by things that are not worth bragging about to other people.

In spite of all this, we understand that our current reality will exist whether or not we give it permission.

And if we don’t grant our surroundings and ourselves the permission to exist, it often means we are engaging in a fight we cannot win. We are trying to change something that cannot be changed right now. We are struggling against our current reality in a way that is not worthwhile. And ultimately, this cycle of fighting to no avail leaves us worn down and, on some level, disdainful of ourselves.

And this is problematic.

Because the truth is, the vast majority of life is not extraordinary. The vast majority of life is comprised of mundane events that we slog through on our way to something greater. Of course, there’s beauty in the mundane if we’re able to look at life from the right perspective, but that can be a difficult task to undertake. And if we’re not able to find that perspective and we’re not granting ourselves permission to exist during the ordinary realities of life, we usually end up fighting against our very existence.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can avoid fighting this losing battle by granting ourselves and our surroundings the permission to exist. The permission to simply be.

Granting this permission isn’t about settling. Or being complacent. Or not being motivated. Or about accepting things we don’t like and never working to make changes.

It’s about not fighting against the reality of ourselves and our lives at every waking moment. It’s about not driving ourselves insane because everything isn’t delightful and amazing and extraordinary all the time.

It’s about granting ourselves and our surroundings permission to exist without constantly worrying whether or not we’re on the precipice of greatness.

It’s about being okay with the times when we just seem to be here, not doing anything particularly wonderful or noteworthy.

Because sometimes in life, we simply exist. And that’s not a crime or some great life tragedy. It’s a necessary and natural part of life. A part of life that preserves our sanity and actually helps us pursue whatever greatness is in our hearts. Because, more recently, when I’ve been able to grant my surroundings and myself the permission to exist, I’ve found that it gives the amazing and profound aspects of life a better chance to shine through.