Why It's Okay to Just Exist

Teacher: What do you want to be when you're grown up?

Student: *after much pondering*  Older.  

The child who answers the teacher in this way is the one who gets it.  Because not every single person is meant to be a doctor or lawyer or do "huge things" with their lives.  Some people just want to be.  And what's wrong with that?

This idea of having to do "huge things" in order to be seen as worthy is an entirely human invention that only exists so we can feel better about ourselves (and without realizing it, shaming others).  We strive to be something, because we feel if we aren't something, then we're failures.  But our worthiness is not wrapped up in a pretty bow when we achieve the high status of what other people deem as success.  Our worthiness is our birthright.  We are born, we are here, therefore we are worthy to be here.  Period.  No matter our statuses.  No matter our jobs.  No matter what we do in our spare time.  No matter how much other people approve of us.  None of that actually matters.

I am not saying do not strive to be what you want to be.  Of you should.  But if you're the type of person who doesn't want to be anything and just enjoy life to the fullest in a way of your choosing?  That's okay, too.

So many of us are told that we lack direction in life or that we just don't apply ourselves.  But so fucking what?  Who says that's the end-all-be-all of life?  Accomplishments don't have to be writing a book or curing malaria, or inventing something amazing or building huge structures.  Accomplishments can be as seemingly little as being kind to others or feeding your pets (both of which are actually very important things).  I'd much rather be kind than have all the stress of what comes with being a doctor or lawyer.

Sometimes old friends ask me "Oh, so what have you been up to in your life?" 

I want to reply the truth.  I want to say "I exist.  I give cash to homeless people whenever I can.  I blog.  I write stories.  I make art.  I parent my kids with love.  I have lots of furry babies to take care of and love, too.  I work on my relationship with my husband so we can actually can end up living happily ever after.  I try to be kind whenever I can, but I am human, so sometimes I am grumpy.  I also sometimes socially awkward and act stupid because I am nervous around people I am no comfortable with yet.  I battle my anxiety and depression on a daily basis.  But every single day I try to be a better person than I was the day before.  I don't always accomplish this, but I never stop trying.  So that means I am succeeding.  And if I have a setback, I recognize what I did wrong and try better next time.  So, what about you?  What have you been up to?"

I am sure if I said this, they'd feel like either I was total weirdo, or I was trying to be condescending.  But I'm not.  Because what I said above is truly my life and these things set my soul on fire to be able to do them 😍 

But when someone in real life actually asks me this question, I always freeze and have no idea what to say.  Usually something like "stay at home parent" rolls off my tongue, but that does not describe much of anything, other than placating those who are asking the question.  Or I say I'm a writer.  That usually satisfies people without any judgement.  But I feel like I have to answer in these ways.  Yes, I am a writer.  But I don't make any money at it (unless you count the three whole dollars I made in 2017 😉).  Yes, I am a stay home parent, but that confines me to the idea that my whole life is cooking, cleaning, taking care of my kids, and playing house (which is does not describe me other than in those ways and I am so much more than that).

Funny, I never ask new people what they do for a living (unless I know them well) or what they've been up to (if I haven't seen them or talked to them in years).  I know what it's like to feel backed into a corner, so I don't like possibly doing that to others.

This idea of having to do "huge things" in life starts when we're kids and is a never ending race to see who can do the most by the time they are an adult.  Parents put huge amounts of pressure one children to succeed, when they should be more concerned with who their child is and if they're happy, not what they will eventually become.

My report cards in grade school always said "She has so much potential, but she never applies herself".  Why don't teachers write the truth rather than concentrating on the whole American (and the rest of the world) ideal of doing "huge things"?  Yes, in that concept, I didn't apply myself.  I didn't get A's in math (or any subject, really--other than English and Art).  I didn't always do my homework or pay attention in class.  I scored well on tests, to a point, but I never retained any of it (unless it interested me). 

So why not write something positive that makes more sense than getting kids into trouble and shaming them for being different?  Something like: "She has creative vision and isn't afraid to be her own person.  She lives outside the boundaries of what's expected of her and just does her own thing.  She's polite and kind to others and listens when she's told to do things, but I think if we gave her the room to do her own thing more often, she'd flourish into who she was meant to be, rather than who the world wants her to be."  That's the type of teacher I'd be.  That'd be my comments on a report card, rather than "doesn't apply herself and has bad handwriting".  I was too busy dreaming of other worlds and a better life than worrying about how to form my letters properly.  My brain moved to quickly (I have ADHD) and my hand just couldn't keep up.  So my handwriting was usually made up of illegible scribbles.  But my art projects?  Those you could see exactly what they were.  They were where I flourished.  I got A's in art every single year, because I understood art.  I loved art.  I breathed art.  I was always daydreaming and drawing in class.  But the world would rather me get an A in math, then let me explore my artistic side and be who I was.  So I failed at so much in school.  Which stayed with me and forced me to believe I was a failure at life.

If only I had been able to live in a world where brains like mine were celebrated rather than shamed.  If only I were allowed to exist, as-is, rather than being shoved into the box of convention.

Now I am forty.  My anxiety and depression rule my life most days.  I am seen as a failure because I didn't "do anything with my life".  I am judged by my peers because I don't have a career path, nor do I want one (or should I say, just one).  And I am judged by family because I am raising my kids to be whatever they want, even if what they want is to just exist.

Just existing doesn't mean to give up.  It doesn't mean not trying.  It means trying anything and everything you want to try, and even if nothing sticks, you keep trying.  It means you can be happy with that, rather than judge yourself based upon the insecurities of others in their "huge things" journeys.  Just existing means putting the simple, everyday items, such as being kind & understanding, accomplishing your daily to-do lists on your own timetables, and always striving to be better, as your main priorities, rather than your background tasks.

Just existing means living the Danish hygge way, everyday, in every moment, and letting the little things be the big things that actually matter.

So many times I hear family members bragging on how their kids or their grandkids (or nieces & nephews) who are doing "huge things" with their lives.  While I find it great to live your dreams, I find it better to know the children of our families are good people, rather than "successful".  Because being successful is an external judgement, not a real thing.  What is the measure of success?  Having money?  Being able to buy a house?  I'd rather my children learn how to be good people, have happy relationships with others, and believe in themselves.  They don't have to invent a new lightbulb to do "huge things".  They just have to treat their spouses and children right, and be happy with what they are doing in the moment, and know how to change their situations if they aren't.

Most people have no idea how to do that.

If you are unhappy, do you know how to change your situation?  Are you aware that you can?  Most people don't even think about that.  Most people just take their unhappiness and live with it, because walking away from things is seen as a failure in this world, and being successful is more important than happiness.

My question is:


When you stop caring about what others think (including the things your teachers write about you on your report cards), you can learn to be happy.  Because your life isn't meant for others.  Your life is mean for you.

If you're happy being a doctor?  That's awesome!  If you're happy writing a book?  That's great!  If you're happy just being a parent or living alone doing the things that make you happy?  That's wonderful!  All of those things are a success.  Every single one.

So the next time you run into an old friend or go to a class or family reunion or meet a new person, don't ask them what they've been up to or what they're doing with their lives.  Instead, ask them "So, what makes you happy nowadays?"  Or get real with them and ask "What fills your soul with fire?"  Yes, you'll catch them off guard, but rather than just getting a list of bragging rights or some other fake response, you may get a real response and open some dialogue about real life (as opposed to the fake face we put on when talking to strangers or people we haven't see in awhile).

If you don't have time for a real conversation, then just ask the good 'ol "How are you?" (rather than "How've ya been?", because that can be interpreted the same as asking about "What have you been up to?"  which can put someone on the spot).

We put so much pressure on "what we want to be when we grow up", we never stop to think that we don't have to be anything, other than alive and happy.  We can just exist and enjoy first snows, birds chirping, our baby's hugs, kisses from our pooches, a cat's happy purr, spring cleaning, good music, soft breezes, stormy nights, or the smell of an orange rind spraying its scent when we first open it.  Little moments mean more than getting trophies, or accolades, or having a high paying job that keeps you out of poverty (because being poor is not a failure).  You don't need to "be successful" in the eyes of your peers in order to find success.  You can find happiness in just existing in a place that makes you happy.

Ask yourself:

Does a child have to be successful to be worthy?  Or do we love them simply because they exist?  What about a cat?  Or a dog?  

There is no difference with us.  We love and are loveable simply because we exist.  What we do while we exist doesn't matter.  If it makes us happy, we should do it.  If it doesn't, we should find a way to fix it so we can be happy again.

Sometimes suffering will happen because we can't change our situations at times.  And that's okay.  But the trick is to always be moving towards getting through it and back to where we are happy again.  Even if that means leaving a high-powered job that doesn't suit us anymore.  Or walking away from a relationship that hurts us.  The idea is to not keep yourself suffering for the sake of looking successful to others (or ourselves).

Doing "huge things" in life has more to do with your inward life (who you are) than our outwards one (how we look to others).

There is no shame in not achieving the success that others want for us.  You have to choose what's right for YOU and only YOU (and the people you share your life with...to a point).  And if your success lies in the simplicity of completing puzzles you find gorgeous, fishing & hunting, drawing in a sketchbook, singing in the shower, decorating your dwelling, or just spending time existing while having great conversations with those you love?  Then you are successful 💗

How about you?  What sets your soul on fire?  Let me know below 😊


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