The "I Don't" List

Sunday, November 17, 2019
This week, a link to Holly Wainwright's blog post, "Every Woman has an 'I Don't List...' came into my feed. And it's great. And it's true. Noone can do everything. Those sports-crazy parents whose kids are awesome athletes on the rise, probably aren't getting hours hiking in the woods and sitting around the campfire. Those quiet, hygge families who are cozy at home playing board games and designing their own latch hook rug patterns, aren't out there as movers and shakers in the public eye.

I felt so empowered when I first read it. I thought about my own I don't list.

1. I don't do PTA.  I will join.  I may even volunteer from time to time (although the last time I totally forgot and was an hour and a half late😓. However I don't go to meetings, call people, or gather shoes for charity.

2. I only shave my legs when I have to. First razors are crazy expensive and second, I am getting to the age where  balancing one leg in the shower with the other perched up on the shower wall, just doesn't seem wise.

3. I don't have to advance in my career.  I am in a field where it is perfectly respectable to remain in the same place, as weird and pathetic as that seems.

4. I don't have to decorate for every holiday and share pinterest-worthy pictures.

5. I don't have to feel bad for being introverted.

6. I don't HAVE to become famous at something, make my name, earn some bucks. The concept that it is okay to live a mediocre life fits here.

7. I don't have to exercise if  I don't want to.  Being a soft and squishy granny isn't illegal yet!

And at first I was like, "Yes!" But then that little pulling started-the tearing at the edge of my skin saying, "Yeah, but!"

What can I say? I was raised in Puritanical, work-'til-you drop America.

And  I started to think, I don't HAVE to be active in PTA, but wouldn't my kids benefit from increased popularity and social connections if I were?

I don't have to shave my legs, but who doesn't love that silky soft, shaved all-over feeling as you go about your day?

I can "just" be a teacher, but why should I let other people who don't really know me define my value? What if there is something tailor-made for me just around the corner? What if I am capable of actually making a difference and influencing with my views? I think that is why the internet and internet-based businesses are so attractive. The gatekeepers are losing influence.

These are my kids' memories. Of course, I should decorate for holidays. My hands are useless-it won't be pinterest worthy:).

Extraverted people have friends. And fun. And get invitations! I want to be involved and active and make a difference, and enjoy people. And yet, my energy level shrinks at the thought. Like how does one remain interested and pleasant without that time to hide away and think about things? How does one write?

And no. I don't have to be famous. I don't have to become an author, or write thoughts which inspire others, or have a successful business. But my heart desires it. If I give up, I will never get it.

And exercise. I want to be comfortable and slimness is pleasant, but what I really desire is time to go out hiking in the hills without dragging a ton of stuff to keep the kids happy. Someday.

All these ideas saying it is okay not being perfect, are hit with all these other ideas that I should never give up! Always keep striving and doing more and growing and being more.

But, then I sometimes wonder-what if there isn't more? What if the only people benefitting from all this work is the money collectors at the top. What if it is all a plan to keep us on the wheel, pushing pushing pushing with the rainbow promise at the end. And then as we think we are getting near, it all evaporates, because it was never more than a ray of light-hope, with no material value ever existing?


And that I think, is where the true "I don't" list comes in. Realizing it may all be an illusion, we can really focus and ask, "What, of all this confusion and mess, is worth striving for?"
When we think about what we want so badly we can taste it, suddenly we know what it is we MUST do. What our soul call to us to do. And then we can take all those dropped balls, the ones that didn't really matter, and add them to our "I don't" list with the true confidence of self-understanding and knowledge.

On that vein, one of my favorite reads when I was in college:
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