Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Why "You Do YOU" is My New Favorite Catch Phrase

While I've been reading through pretty much everything Gretchen Rubin has ever written I've come upon some very helpful advice. In The Happiness Project she reveals one of her strategies is just to "Be Gretchen."  This resonated with me as I thought about all the ways I needed to "Be Michelle." A lot of feeling awkward or out of sorts stems from this thing we all do of trying to make ourselves into the people we think we should be or that others think we should be.

You should get out more, write a book, downsize, upgrade, start a Facebook group, get on Snapchat, become a vegan, take pilates.

You get the idea. You probably have your own list. Sometimes people make very useful suggesstions. "You should take that job." and other times not so useful. "You should get the latest phone." For the most part people are trying to be helpful, just like you and I are when we do the same thing. But at some point you realize that there are things that are true about you that are just the way you are and are neither good nor bad. Kicking against them too fiercely can make you feel awkward or edgy. Here are a few of mine that I've given up trying to change.

I'm a lark. Like from day one. I can remember getting myself dressed at sunrise when I was 5 years old and going out to play before anyone was awake. My motto has always been "If you miss the sunrise you miss the best part of the day." Of course the flip side of this is being out when friends and fading fast around 10:30. I can only be the life of the party until about the time the evening news comes on. The opposite side of this are the Night Owls being told they need to be productive before the sun comes up. Night Owls and Larks are hardwired that way and it's a big waste of energy to try to change it.

Are you trying to adapt to someone else's sleep pattern?

I've always wanted to work in some kind of little shop. I've never, ever wanted to work in an office setting. Neither have I wanted to work for a company. I've wanted to work for a real live person not a faceless corporation. And now I do. Maybe it's the opening scene of You've Got Mail. I don't know why there is something appealing about unlocking the front door and turning on the lights or fluffing and rearranging the products we sell but there is. Sure I know, Oprah would tell me I'm supposed to want to own my own business, but there is also something nice about locking the door and not having to worry about the payroll. For me, it's perfect.

Are you making yourself unhappy trying to do or want what other people (or the culture) think would be right for you?

Minimalism for me means not living without stuff, but living without everyone else's stuff. I actually enjoy abundance. I like there to be enough of everything. In my quest for minimalism I reached a place where it made me uneasy. Was this a hint of what the people on Hoarders were experiencing? Maybe. It was revealed to me by way of Pinterest when realizing one day that absolutely ZERO of the pins I had of rooms were places of scarcity. All the gardens were rambly. All the homes looked lived in and collected over time. I liked gallery walls and full bookshelves.

Are you trying to pull off a style that isn't you because it's a trend or you think you should?

My blog is ad free and I don't accept free stuff from companies for review. Lots of people would say "What's the use of spending all that time and not making any money?" Because the writing is the thing. The writing and bringing the joy. I enjoy not being beholden to some corporation about what to write how many times I have to post it on social media. The payoff for me is when someone comments and says that they enjoyed a post or that it helped them in some way.

Are you trying to make something into a business that should be being done for the intrinsic value?

I don't like forums or meetings. Oh my word I cannot tell you how much I despise, loathe, and dread meetings. I recently posted something on an online forum and while I got some very good answers I also got a couple of smart-assy ones that I found irritating. This is what's wrong with the modern world, I thought to myself. Everybody wants to be David Letterman. Even when pretending to help. I know that I prefer small groups to large gatherings. What made me think social media would be any different than that? I'd never go to a meeting with a hundred people and ask a question. I'd find one or two people afterwards and ask them. Or frankly, I'd just google it.

Are you getting informed in a way that doesn't fit you or worse, makes you uncomfortable just because others find it a useful tool?

One of my new favorite things to both think and say to myself and to others is "You do you." It's a fine thing to want to improve and if you are a regular reader you know I work on myself all the time. Honestly, I should be better by now. But at this point in my life the changes I'm making aren't for anyone else. I work on the things that I know hold me back.

Being you or doing the things that make you happier doesn't mean we aren't improving or striving. It doesn't mean a lack of ambition or drive. It just means you aren't going to be driven by others.

Now. Go do you


  1. Thank you Michelle, this has given me a lot to think about and makes me feel a bit better about some things. I’m a lark too!

    1. I'm so glad you found it helpful. We often feel like others are doing it "right" but often they are just wired differently. It's what makes comparison such a trap!


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