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The Curse of the "Shoulds"

I don’t care for the word “should” and how it’s generally imposed on folks’ livelihoods through everyday language. It’s a very weaponized word usually, strongly associated with “having to do something” out of obligation. It's like arbitrary word law. 


And maybe it’s because I’m a life path 8, with a major authority complex, that I instinctively rebel against any obligatory inkling. I’m stubborn AF and I don’t believe in just going along simply because someone said to. 


My mama always told me the only thing I have to do is remain a Black woman and die.

And even that rhetoric has changed over the years. I don’t have to remain in this body if I choose not to. But I do have to die.

That’s the only inevitable and nonnegotiable item.

EVERYTHING else is up for debate!

To that end, the only thing that any of us SHOULD do right now is mind your business (and wash your hands).  



Beyond that you can utilize this quarantine time to do whatever the fuck you wanna do! (ahem…aight now that I let the inner Bmore come out right quick, I can go back to my sophisticated voice)…



 

Dear community and extended family,


I ask you to consider your language and be extra mindful of your communication during this time. Lots of folks are unwittingly debasing their internet kinfolk with their (unsolicited) advice. 


And I get it.


This is the internet.

Everybody and their mama got something to say about everything and we all believe our thought process is justified. 

And no, you are not responsible for other people’s interpretations, reactions, feelings, or whatever to your thoughts.  And yet, you also kind of are.


We all are.


If this pandemic has shown us anything it is that we are much more interconnected and interdependent that we realize. Therefore, our words expressed have tremendous reach and power and we have a responsibility to consider the social-emotional consequences of those expressions we put out into the ether. 

So these posts, and statuses popping up that dictate to people how they “should” be utilizing this solitary time, can we reframe them

Firstly, please notice that I said solitary time. An artist friend of mine, Dita, recommended that we rethink the use of terms like isolation because of how disempowering it is in this crisis.


I agree.


The same goes for how we administer advice. Encouraging folks to be more intentional and committed to manifesting and executing their life goals is dope. Shaming people because they choose not (or rather may not have the capacity) to do so is aggy AF! 


For example…


This is presumptuous. It’s demoralizing. It’s triggering.

It’s (I repeat) aggy AF!!!



Posts like the above, dismiss people’s various, ever evolving situations. 

There are people who are still on the frontlines right now working amidst COVID. 

There are people who are suddenly unemployed. 

There are folks who are busier now with online work and also homeschooling, elderly care and so on, that the assumptions on their time and how they should exercise it, is insensitive. 


And there are folks who aren’t doing any of that, that may be binge watching tv, sleeping, (over) eating, obsessively scrolling social media and doing what they feel is necessary to cope with this madness.  


Ain’t no shame in any of the above.  



The problem with these “should” posts is that it falsely overgeneralizes, while also unduly pressuring folks on this type of weird flex. If you wish to start a hustle, more power to you. But don’t come for me and my people (cuz we all internet kinfolk) when we are also the very same ones that you need to support said hustle!  And I say this as a fellow business owner myself!



Hell, I know personally, I struggle with self discipline.  But condescension has never worked as a motivator for me. I don’t need (nor want)  YO IMPERFECTLY IGGNANT ASS, SIR ANWAR to tell me what I already know (ahem...excuse me. Le ratchet sometimes, she just slips out). 



So how to reframe these statuses. 

  • Make it personal. And then invite folks to join in if they so choose. *Bonus would be offering practical assistance on how to implement whatever goals are named.    Example: I’m using this time to do x, y and z. Who else wants do x, y and z with me? Let’s start a group, and collaborate on how we can do x, y and z together.  

Boom! We got mutual accountability, community engagement, personal achievement.

All that feel good, positive shit!

  • Or just simply, use the bonus from the first suggestion.

Example:  Does anyone need help starting x,y and z during the quarantine?

Dm me, I can help with… In both of these examples, you (the status poster) lead by example, you still get celebrated for your initiative genius (if that’s even your intention because let’s face it, external validation does feel good) but it omits the stigma placed on people that don’t, or won’t operate at the same level you are. And for a little while, we can be one big, happy internet family again.



 

So what did we learn? 

That should shit is for the birds, yo!

You should feel how you’re feeling.

You should do what you deem necessary to survive.

You should tend to your mental health.

You should do whatever makes you happy!

You should exercise greater empathy for yourselves and the world around you. 

These "shoulds" feel good, but feel free to do whatever works for you.

Without shame, without pressure, with all of the love and support that you need. 

That’s the whole point!     


In love, light and solidarity,

Your internet sista 

Jaiye 

💜

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