“You should wear brighter colors”
“You should try this new recipe I heard about”
“You shouldn’t wear your hair like that”
“You shouldn’t wear those pants with those shoes”
“You should lose a couple more pounds and you’ll be perfect”
Ever heard anything similar? The sound of persons who feel absolutely entitled to telling you how to live your life? Using two variations of one word.
I like to call them Mr. Should and Mrs. Shouldn’t. A very famous couple that everyone seems to know.
Now I’m not trying to bash good advice. Because sometimes we do need to wear brighter colors, to lift our moods or we do need to be more conscious of the food we eat.
But letting this couple take over your life is a recipe for mental disaster.
Getting ready for a national pageant with all eyes on you, can be a daunting task and you may become overwhelmed with the amount of advice that will be shared with you, some unwarranted and some unwanted.
For the people pleaser that I was, this was a nightmare. I wanted to take every piece of advice to heart and implement it in my life. If someone said I was wearing too much makeup, I wore less. If someone said I was wearing too little makeup, I wore more.
Many times, I was told to lose weight and so this was a major motivation for me to exercise. It worked out great in the beginning because I was able to lose weight and become leaner. But what this resulted in was 4 years of yo-yo dieting with weight fluctuations and serious blows to my self-esteem.
Writing this book was supposed to be a positive, happy, light experience but it’s awakening some dark truths about myself and the world I lived in for 4 years.
Every day, Mr. Should and Mrs. Shouldn’t would find me whether it was through someone at work, a family member, a friend, the pageant committee, my sponsors, my trainers, or random strangers.
Especially since I was actively and publicly losing weight, everyone was suddenly an expert on fitness and nutrition. Mr. Should would tell me I should try this new recipe, try this new diet plan and Mrs Shouldn’t would tell me that I shouldn’t eat this and I shouldn’t eat that.
There were days I wanted to explode on someone. I started to grow bitter inside and resented everyone who gave me advice.
Who were they to feel so entitled to tell me how to live my life? Who were they to judge what I ate and how much I exercised?
I was so angry for a very long time. But I hid it because I still had to be the happy little princess on the outside.
I had to contain my anger and my eye rolls for fear or looking ungrateful and snobbish. And as most people do when they have unbearable neighbors, I tried to hide. I avoided certain places and people because I didn’t want to hear their advice. It was suffocating and my self-esteem plummeted.
It took me a long time to figure it out but I learned two things. One is that some people genuinely are looking out for your best interest when they give advice and sometimes the truth hurts. Like when my trainer chastised me for sneaking icecream one weekend. He was right, if I wanted to get to my goal weight I had to sacrifice the sweets. That didn’t make it any easier but at least I knew he was looking out for me. He wanted me to win just as bad as I did.
And two, I had more control over this situation than I thought. The saying is true, nobody can make you feel inferior unless you let them. And I refused to let them any longer. If I didn’t want to wear bold colors I didn’t. If I didn’t want to wear makeup then I didn’t have to.
By learning these two truths, Mr. Should and Mrs. Shouldn’t became less of the unbearable, nosy neighbors, and more of your friendly neighborhood helper.
Now when someone gives me advice, I accept it for what it is, their opinion. I conduct a self-evaluation to see if maybe there is something I do need to adjust, apply it if I feel it necessary, and thank the person for their help.
This gave me so much more confidence to speak up and speak out and not be afraid.
It’s an ironic feeling in 2018 because everyone you see on tv is being bold and standing up for themselves, speaking out. But in reality, how many of us are that bold? How many of us feel that confident to speak out for fear of retribution?
While everyone else was being bold, I still felt like the scared, worthless insecure baby girl on the inside.
But that girl is growing up. She is learning. She is gradually becoming more courageous. That girl is me. My growth may not be at the same rate as every one else but that’s ok. My pace is my pace and what God has in store for me, nobody can take away.