Anywhere ‘Should’ Is, Pain Is Too.

I should be doing something else. I should be something, someone, else. I shouldn’t be like this. I should be different. I shouldn’t feel like this. My life should be different. I should be different…

Should is a fucking sticky word. Anywhere should is, pain is too.

When I am shoulding myself, I am wishing and wanting things to be different from what they are and who I am now. Knowledge of my lovability and brilliance is completely lost. My achievements — big or small — go unnoticed. Beauty in my life is unspottable or not enough.

I end up knee-deep in comparison of myself and someone/something/somewhere else I think I should be.

A fictional based-on-loose-facts (sometimes very loose) kind of story, where somebody else is compared to me, where somebody else becomes who I should be, and somebody else’s life — or a completely fictional life not attached to anybody else — becomes what I should be doing with mine.

When I am shoulding myself, I am giving myself a beating in moments I need compassion, softness, and love. The hurt I am already feeling is perpetuated by the shame the word should brings.

The should and the shame dance together until I am on the floor, paralyzed by fear, judgment, and self-criticism — of my past, present, and future — unable to do anything but give myself more criticism for feeling this shame, and not feeling strong enough to fight it.

Everything feels blindingly unfamiliar in these moments. It’s as though I’ve trodden this path a thousand times and not one, all at once. I feel lost inside myself, rather than at home — loved, held, supported, soft…

Should is addictive. It hurts. It’s convincing. It tells stories of seeming accuracy and importance that I have to listen to, but are actually fear-fueled lies. Fear of not conforming to the norm, of not being loved or accepted by anyone if I accept this as myself and my life.

Should takes us to the places society says we need to be in order to be loved, accepted, and part of this cultural groove we are in.

In those moments I am shoulding and feeling shame, my self-confidence and robustness are stripped. I am at the hands of a system I don’t even believe in.

All my rebellion and determination to resist, raise awareness about, and change the self-hatred and constant searching and comparing that the capitalist system encourages, seemingly disappears, and is replaced with self-doubt and hate. Buckets of it.

I feel naked and unprotected to the fire that normally fuels me on. I am blinded to love — from myself or from anyone else. Instead I see only shame gremlins telling me the difference between who I am and who I need to be in order to be loved.

But what if we are enough? What if we don’t need to should ourselves into a harsh routine of punishment, criticism and comparison? What if where we are, who we are, and what we are doing, is enough?

What if all the ways society tells are the appropriate, lovable, and acceptable ways to be and live are what need to change instead of us?

What if rather than making it a personal, individualized, thing, looking at how we are not enough and we need to change, we need to look at society, at the system? What if we need to take the conversation further afield, away from ourselves and into the community in which we live?

Because we can’t do this all ourselves.

So the next time should comes wandering into your head, flip it the bird and tell yourself this:

You are enough.


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Amani Omejer
Amani lives in Bristol, UK. She can be found enjoying herbalism, swimming in rivers, surfing, laughing, and talking about life with friends or anyone who will listen. She is a firm believer in telling your story in order to heal. She is currently writing a book. Connect with her on Facebook or take a look at her website.
Amani Omejer
Amani Omejer