Life. It’s supposed to be fun, right? You’re supposed to be happy. Okay maybe not giddy every moment of the freaking day, but at least content.

Do you ever ask yourself what you’re here for? I mean, REALLY here for? I know I have.

When I allowed myself the time and space to explore this question, the answer was simple.

I am here to experience all that life has to offer. I’m here to have fun. To laugh. To love. To explore this beautiful planet. To learn and pursue what interests me. To help and encourage those close to me as well as the friends and strangers I’ll meet along the way.

There’s more…but really it boils down to being happy, joyous and free.

For a long time, I didn’t really have goals. Not my own, anyway. I had other people’s goals. I had a script. It was a standard-issue American Dream script that must have come in the mail with my official birth certificate or my social security card.

This script covered the basics: You’ll be a good girl. You’ll be pretty, sweet and friendly. You’ll get good grades and not get in trouble, and you’ll graduate high school and make your parents proud.

You might go to college — or you might not. Either way, you’ll find something productive to do with your time. Get a job, learn some marketable skills. As a woman, you might want to consider teaching, nursing, office administration or perhaps work in the hospitality industry.

It really doesn’t matter, though, because your primary purpose is to acquire a husband and children. From there, it’s all about survival, baby. Pay those bills, buy a nice car, buy a big house, wear nice clothes, make sure everything looks good so people know you work hard and you’re a good person. While the script left some wiggle room there was little tolerance for major deviation.

And hey, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this — if it’s what you WANT. But what if it isn’t? Or what if you want it to look different? What if you don’t want to buy a bigger house and a new car every few years? What if you don’t want to get married? What if you don’t want kids? Or what if you want kids, but you want to travel the world while homeschooling them? What if you want to work a non-traditional job while you raise kids on the road? What if you want to live in a converted bus, or a van down by the river? (Hehe, points if you get the reference.)

I Wanted To Play Nice And Get My “Atta Girl”

I wanted to do what I was supposed to do — I really did. And when I didn’t, I was wracked with guilt and shame.

I struggled with a variety of inner demons: Addiction, crippling anxiety, ADHD, low (no) self-esteem, zero confidence and an awkward mix of poor social skills, attention-seeking behaviors and an overall glum outlook on life.

Truthfully, I botched things pretty bad, but I still plugged away, continuing my quest for that Dream that would deliver me happiness and redemption.

Through all those years it never once occurred to me to ask myself if it was what I wanted. Ever.

I think I was right about 40 when I actually started questioning things. Really questioning them. By that time I had a few years clean and sober under my belt, and was in a place of deep exploration. I’d decided to go back to school and pursue a degree in psychology and human services, maybe be a social worker. I was on a serious personal development quest, buying up stacks of self-help and spiritual books. I read them all: Wayne Dyer, Paulo Coelho, Don Miguel Ruiz, Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins. When I realized what a codependent mess I was, I delved into Melodie Beatty. I explored creativity with Julia Cameron and shame with Brene Brown. I worked my steps in recovery. I read The Secret and started exploring the Law of Attraction.

It wasn’t until just about three years ago, though, that I had a profound revelation. All the work I’d been doing was bringing me to the startling conclusion that I didn’t need to get better at reading the script I was given, I needed to throw out that script and write a new one.

Previous to that realization, I just figured I needed to get BETTER at living that life. I needed to be “more together” and “better at relationships” and “more focused.” I needed to handle my responsibilities with greater efficiency and finesse.

Something shifted though, and I realized that I’d never really asked myself WHAT, exactly it was that I wanted. I was just following the rules. Rules I didn’t make. I’d agreed to them, though. Even when I wasn’t following the rules, I was still agreeing to them. I know this to be true because if I hadn’t agreed to them, I wouldn’t feel so guilty for “breaking” them.

The World Runs On Rules

It’s true. Every single day we follow rules. We follow them without realizing it. We agree to them without giving a second thought. We impose those rules on others in our lives, and we pass those rules down to our children.

There are so many rules it’s almost difficult to start the list. The rules take so many forms. They are codes of conduct and well-worn adages. Things like “boys don’t cry” and “it’s not ladylike to…” are examples of rules. Rules are enforced by phrases such as: “That’s just the way it is” and “that’s how it’s done.”

The rules tell you how to live your life. They tell you lies about what is and isn’t possible. It’s your parents telling you that art is a hobby and not a career, or that to be successful you have to go to college. There are rules related to gender, relationships, politics and religion. Rules about how much you should work and play. There are rules about how you should look, feel, act and speak.

There are LOTS of rules about youth and weight and hard work. Somehow, these things are closely related with how you’re viewed as a person. They are tied to your worth. That’s a rule.

Sit for a moment and think about the rules you follow.

It’s always a good idea to do a rule check once in a while. One way to do this is to keep track of your “should’s” and “sorry’s.” If you find yourself going on about how you “should have” done this, or “shouldn’t have” done that, or you are constantly apologizing it’s a signal that something in your life is out of alignment. There’s no reason to be living in Should-ville. It’s time to look at what rules you think your breaking, or that you’ve agreed to.

If you aren’t happy about the rules you follow, it’s time to break them! Yes, you can. Don’t start with the “It’s just the way it is” or “I just can’t” or “I would but…”

The world won’t fall apart. Your happiness matters. You can write your own rules. You can live life on your terms.


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