A few weeks ago I got an email from a 23-year-old woman, Liberty, who had watched my TEDx talk. After reading her email, I asked if I could share it with you because I was struck by the nature and source of her shoulds.
From her email (emphasis mine):
Listening to what you had to say made me realize that I have, up until now, been living my life based on “shoulds”.
I refused to go into any career that is dominated by females (like the fashion industry) because intelligent women “should” use their brains for more noble purposes like advancing women’s equality and breaking the glass ceiling in male-dominated industries like finance, etc….(All this, despite the fact that fashion has been a passion of mine from a young age and I have a knack for anything related to the subject).
I have always wanted to start a business & become rich so that I can travel freely, contribute to philanthropic causes, and support my family for generations to come. However, I have downplayed this desire for wealth because society says that people “shouldn’t” make wealth a priority for fear of appearing selfish.
And the list goes on.
I’d like to believe that feminism is about freedom of choice, about opportunities to be who you are without having to fight against ridiculous prejudices based on gender.
It’s so easy for a Thing Worth Fighting For to become a Thing That Everyone Should Want.
Like having a career and a family.
Like women working in technology.
Like traveling full-time, or working for yourself, or owning less than 100 things, or any number of things that are perfectly good ideas.
But maybe not everyone wants to get rid of their stuff or travel the world or work on robots. That’s OK, too.
We humans are so prone to evangelism. We find The Way and The Truth and The Light and we cannot help ourselves from running out and telling everyone about it.
And there is nothing wrong with the telling. It’s the pushing and the converting and the judgment that becomes a problem.
Of course, one person’s pushing and converting and judging doesn’t have to become another person’s problem.
Remember that the world needs revolutionaries and keepers of tradition. We need homemakers and code breakers.
And perhaps your passion doesn’t come with the hope of a Nobel Prize or a spot on Oprah or even a TEDx talk – but if it is yours it will come with every single thing you need in this life.
Don’t let yourself be bullied by isms. Believe in the purpose of your happiness, even if no one else gets it.
You do you.