When I was little, one of the most difficult decisions I wrestled with was whether or not to quit boy scouts. Looking back on it now, it seems silly. But at the time, it felt like a big deal. I probably worried about the decision for six months.
The bottom line was that I didn’t really like boy scouts. I didn’t like the activities we did, and I got stressed out about having to get a bunch of merit badges. It felt more like work than fun for me.
So why didn’t I just quit?
Well, for some reason I felt bad about quitting. I felt like I would disappoint my troop leaders, who were all really into boy scouts. I felt like I would let down my friends. My dad was a troop leader and really liked it. I had all these worries that I put on myself about what other people would think or feel if I quit.
I didn’t feel free to do what I want.
When I look back on it now, it seems ridiculous that I got so worked up about something that ended up being not that big of a deal. I quit, and everyone was fine and moved on with their lives. But at the time, it was a difficult process for me.
The reality of the situation was that I put way too much pressure on myself to take into consideration the thoughts and feelings of others. I’m not saying we should be selfish and not care about the needs of others. But I know for myself, I tend to worry too much about the thoughts, feelings, and expectations of others when it comes to making decisions about my own life. I was acting like other people would be deeply hurt and disappointed if I decided to quit boy scouts. That just wasn’t the case. They had their own life to think and worry about.
And even if some people were hurt or disappointed about my decision to quit boy scouts, could that be okay? I have to live my own life and make my own decisions. I can’t run my life based on someone else’s preferences for me. We are each responsible for our own life course.
The decision about boy scouts was made a long time ago. But here’s the question I think we all need to wrestle with today: How much of what we are doing in our lives right now is because of what we want, or believe is in our best interests? On the other hand, how much of what we are doing in our lives right now is because we are scared or worried about how other people might think, feel, or react?
Life is short. I want to live free to do what I want.
Discussion: Do you feel like you are living the life you want? Or do you organize your life based on how you think other people will think, feel, or react?