Recently I shared a post to a my social media page (follow me on IG if you feel so inclined @plantbasedyogimusings) that got a really interesting response. It is a very simple post, just a picture of a white board calendar and it says :
“Don’t feel bad for making decisions that upset other people. You’re not responsible for their happiness, you’re responsible for yours.”
Overwhelmingly, the response was positive. There were some comments though (since deleted comments) that were less than positive.
“Yeah. With no concern for the lives that you ruin along the way. Jerk.”
“What a horrible and selfish quote.”
Like I said, I deleted these posts. Some people will take the time to go back and forth with people about the meanings, how they were misunderstood, yadda yadda. I am absoutely not one of those people(full disclosure I used to be). I do want to take some time in my blog however to discuss how we are socially conditioned in this society….especially as women….even more so for women of color…to try and curate and manipulate our lives in a way that will not be disruptive, draw too much attention to ourselves, or make anyone else uncomfortable.
It is damaging mentally, spirtually, and ultimately physically to try and make every decision that involves YOUR life fit into whatever happy little narrative everyone else thinks it should fit in. This does not mean that it is okay to cause harm to people, and honestly this should go without saying. It means that this life is YOURS and YOURS alone to live. You’ve only got one of them. Why are you wasting it trying to make everyone else but yourself happy? The belief that we have to shrink ourselves and make life decisions based on who it makes comfortable is rooted in patriarchy, supremacy and ableism. It is too late in the day to be apologetic for who you are and for what you want.
If you have people in your life that are no longer growing with you or are not happy to see you growing; it’s perfectly okay to lovingly tell those people that you need to be rooted more firmly in your journey and you are unable to take them with you. You don’t have to be an ass about it. But you do need to be a grown up and know it’s okay to “leave the table when you are no longer being served.” -Nina Simone.
If corporate america ain’t your bag, and you are a creative and make the decision to march to your own beat…do it. You’re not living for your Mother or your Father or whoever else told you what success is supposed to look like. You’re living for you.
I could go on and on with examples of what it looks like to make decisions based on what’s best for you, but I think you get the drift. Living as the most authentic version of yourself is the greatest gift you can give to not only yourself, but those who truly love you and are rooting for you. This does not let you off the hook if you have responsibilties. This does not give you license to cause harm to others in the name of “keeping it real.” This is about living your best life. Period.
Trying to make everyone around us happy and make them feel safe to our own detriment is what makes us mentally exhausted, resentful, unfulfilled and listless. You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. Happiness comes from within.