I know, it’s been a while. I took some time away from writing and blogging. Had a busy couple of months, what with Holidays and friends coming into town, and me going out of town. I’m back now, I just wanted to give myself a little vacation.
Which actually segues nicely into what I want to talk about: obligations.
Why do we feel the need to constantly pound ourselves with obligations?
Think about it, when was the last time you genuinely sat down, stared at the wall and didn’t feel like “oh, crap I forgot to ____” or “damn, so-and-so said they wanted to hang out” or “well, I guess I have some down time, might as well ____?”
We are constantly drowning in our obligations, and many of these are placed upon ourselves. We have the innate ability as a society to take things that shouldn’t be obligations, and make them feel that way. Fun, leisure activities can feel like rigid, scheduled work. Social activities have to planned to the T and time set aside for them. If you watch a TV show regularly, better schedule the happenings of your week around that night. Even those of us that read or play video games, if you’ve ever been in a point where you have a huge backlog building up, as you stare at the pile you may think “jeez, I’m never going to finish these” or “when will I have the time?”
We make everything into an obligation, as if some second or even third party is holding us to it. Quite often, someone is. Our boss. An Editor. A teacher/professor. Sure, many things have someone expecting completion and good work, and thus the obligation is poured out directly from them, but what about the things that come from us? Why do things that should be casual hobbies sometimes feel like assignments or duties? I personally feel it is just all of us, each and every one of us, reacting to the myriad of discourse playing out around us at any given time.
You work at a job you hate, but pays well – Discourse of Success
You really want and can afford this video game, but decide you don’t need it – Discourse of Money
You would much rather cloister away and be alone this weekend, but are easily pressured into going to a party with friends – Discourse of Social Wellness
You refuse that tasty slice of pizza in honor of staying skinny – Discourse of Beauty
You feel alone and worthless because you aren’t dating anyone – Discourse of Sexuality and Love
These discourses play at us all the time, and it makes me wonder: when did we stop doing things for ourselves? When is it okay to let so much outside influence decide who we are? We as a society have stopped taking our Mental and Emotional Wellness into consideration. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve known to take a job they know they won’t enjoy, but it pays better. They decide to live in an area where they know no one, they are distant from family and friends, and they are in a climate that is the opposite of their favorite places, all in the name of a slightly bigger salary. I’ve known plenty of people jump on strict diets, despite being in fairly decent shape, because they’ve decided this will be the key to finding love. I’ve seen people do drugs and continue doing them because someone they thought was cool started to give them attention. These discourses dance all around us all the time. It’s easy to say “oh, well those things would never happen to me. Only weak people give into peer pressure.”
Oh? Can you honestly say you are doing 100% of every decision you ever make in your life for you and you alone? Think about every major choice you’ve made and why you made them. If you have indeed only lived for yourself, great. If not, no worries. We all do it. Each and every one of us. That’s the power of the discourses.
I guess I’ll wrap up by saying this: It’s unrealistic to think that 100% of your decisions will be made selfishly, or rather only with yourself in mind. Sometimes you have to make decisions for the greater good and for those around you. I’m also not saying that people who do this are just inherently unhappy. What I’m getting at is that your personal choices, the choices that affect mainly YOU, shouldn’t be about anyone else. If you hate your job, find a new one. If you want to drink a lot on a Friday night, do it. If you enjoy diet and exercise, go for it. If you want to spend maybe a little more than you should on a new computer, dive in head first. If you want to eat four burgers in a sitting because burgers are delicious, eat up! Obviously, for a lot of these things moderation is the key, but the idea is to live for yourself and strive for your own individual happiness in the smaller areas of your life. Leave the obligations at work and school and whatnot, and live for yourself in your free time. At the end of it all, you are the only person that will experience your life in its entirety, from start to finish. So why shouldn’t you do everything it take to keep yourself happy?
What do you think? Am I bad at being preachy? What sort of things have you turned into obligations? Where did the humorous posts go?