There can really be a lot of gates in this world. Just a variety of places where you need to stop, seek out permission/validation/approval before you can really do… well… anything. It’s not exactly the kind of thing that inspires you to go bigger, reach higher and do tremendously amazing things, is it?
In some cases, the world of permission is just an inherent and unavoidable part of life. I think of life in the corporate world that I know oh-so-very-well. My workaday life is filled with policies and permission and forms and approvals processes. You cannot do what I do (company ethics officer) and avoid that in any way… and honestly, you shouldn’t avoid it anyway. Can it feeling limiting to people at times? Of course it can, but it’s just a fact of big corporate life that one needs to accept and move on from. It’s part of the understanding of being in Corporate America and if it’s something that causes you such an enormous amount of heartburn and stress, you will probably need to find a workplace more conducive to your style at some point, because I don’t see it all changing anytime soon.
Ahh… but what about the life outside of work? You know, that area in our personal lives where… in theory at least… we finally have the chance to freely choose what we do, where we go, what we read, with whom we associate and so on. What about there? Surely within the bounds of the law we must be unfettered in our ability to make our decisions, no?
Whether due to religious/social/family norms, we do still tend to live a lot according to the wishes of others. Some of this is just lubricant to keep the gears of the relationship machine running smoothly. Oh, you know what I mean. The dinner you go to with your in-laws even though you would rather be home, feet up and soaking up a massive college football showdown in the SEC. The helping a friend to move into a 3rd story walk-up. It’s a lot of little things like this where you need to do someone a solid… but truth be told, you would probably like to do something else entirely.
But what about beyond that? Are we limiting ourselves from things that would honestly make us happy because we worry too often what “others” (however it needs to be defined for the situation in question) will think?
Oh believe me, I do this as well, but I am getting just a tiny bit better about it all the time. I still care (more than I probably should) what my parents may think about certain things I want to do or whether my friends or colleagues might find something I enjoy odd (pushing a Prowler in the snow, anyone?).
But damn… the more I move away from caring about a lot of the minutiae about who might… GASP!… judge me poorly and more about whether something will add a positive to my life… darn it all if I don’t end up being happier. In a way, one method I can use to spot areas where I might find more happiness is listing out things that my friends and family might look askance at. Chances are there are more than a few perfect nuggets in that list of things I darn well should be doing.
So take that as a little exercise for yourself as well. Don’t alienate your loved ones just for the sake of being a complete jerkweed. No one likes that guy and he’s just a completely ponderous fool (and we all know at least one of these dudes).
Find your Prowler in the snow. Push the hell out of it. And revel a little more in the fact that while no one else gets it… you love it.