“Should is how other people want us to live our lives… Choosing Must is the greatest thing we can do with our lives.”
The times where I have read something really great that thought it was worth sharing are few and far between. But when I do read something that truly captures my attention and makes me think I have this urge to tell anyone who is willing to hear about it. So here is where I tell you. I read an article by an designer, artist and writer, Elle Luna, called “The Crossroads of Should and Must”. It seems like a while ago but as soon as I read it, I knew. It was one of those things. It resonated with me. Upon finishing reading this article, I made a decision. I decided to choose Must.
If you haven’t read the article, you’re probably wondering what choosing Must means. Luna describes it best when she says…
Should is how other people want us to live our lives. It’s all of the expectations that others layer upon us.
Sometimes, Shoulds are small, seemingly innocuous, and easily accommodated. “You should listen to that song,” for example. At other times, Shoulds are highly influential systems of thought that pressure and, at their most destructive, coerce us to live our lives differently.
Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self.
Until recently I thought I knew what this meant. When I read this article almost a year ago, I felt like I was choosing must. It wasn’t until recently that I realised that I was infact choosing should all along.
For me, it began from a conversation I was having with my mum. We decided to take a walk around the neighbourhood when she brought up the topic of my unrelenting job hunt that I was on. I mean, I had finished my degree and graduated almost 6 months ago at this point but I kept receiving rejection after rejection. It felt like my life was going nowhere. She listened while I complained and whinged about it. When I finally stopped for air, she asked it I would be interested in going back to university. Ideally, I wouldn’t have wanted to, especially feeling like I was finally done with study. But I had been thinking about something I kinda-sorta interested me but I as looking at it as a last resort.
The thing that “kinda-sorta interested me” was studying to become a primary school teacher. For someone who just got their commerce degree, becoming a teacher seemed like a random choice. But it was a choice, that essentially made itself. I was toying with the idea for a while, not really talking about it with anyone but I kept going back to it. So when I finally allowed myself to speak about it, the choice seemed obvious.
I applied for the course that night, as soon as I got home. Since then, I know in my gut that I made the right choice. I finally chose Must.
Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self. It’s our instincts, our cravings and longings, the things and places and ideas we burn for, the intuition that swells up from somewhere deep inside of us. Must is what happens when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own. Because when we choose Must, we are no longer looking for inspiration out there. Instead, we are listening to our calling from within, from some luminous, mysterious place.
Making the choice to do this course was the first step towards choosing must. Acknowledging that this is what I want to do was as important as applying. It allowed me to look at my life and notice that teaching was something that has ‘called’ to me. I tried to get my fix of it through the girl guiding that I was doing but it wasn’t necessarily fulfilling and desire I had to become a teacher. For a long time, I found myself doing thing that people expected for me. Doing a commerce degree was probably one of those things that I thought I should do, but I was miserable most of the time. Even when I thought I chose to study interesting/fun things like marketing.
I often tried to picture what my life would look like once I was done with university and I can honestly say that sitting in an office was not appealing, neither was working for a big company. Yet, making the choice to become a teacher was something that immediately filled me with a sense of rightness. I was excited and enthusiastic and more than ready to begin which was not a feeling I had experienced in a while. It felt amazing!
However, the decision to do this did pose some fairly important questions. Do I want to study again? It is supposed to be an intensive course, I won’t be able to work for an entire year, will my parents be willing to support me? Do I want to add another 10K to my already large student loan? What if I find that this is not what I want to do? What will I do then?
Those fears I noted were perfectly normal. By addressing them and not ignoring them, I am actively choosing Must. By not letting these challenges stop me, I am saying that my will to do this is more important than these fears.
If you believe that you have something special inside of you, and you feel it’s about time you gave it a shot, honor that calling in some small way — today.
If you feel a knot in your stomach because you can see the enormous distance between your dreams and your daily reality, do one thing to tighten your grip on what you want — today.
If you’ve been peering out over the edge of the cliff but can’t quite make the leap, dig a little deeper and find out what’s stopping you — today.
Because there is a recurring choice in life, and it occurs at the intersection of two roads. We arrive at this place again and again. And today, you get to choose.
So I finally feel like I made the right choice.
I chose Must. I am going to try and keep choosing Must.
What about you?