The Implications of an Unwanted Should

I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed, but the word should seems to be thrown around a lot on social media these days, and I can’t help but feel as though the connotations have become increasingly negative. Which got me thinking, is it just me, or are there others out there who feel the same way?

Despite being somewhat of a self-proclaimed social media enthusiast, I recently had to take a little online hiatus – from Facebook in particular – after becoming increasingly frustrated with the amount of ‘shoulds’ being thrown at me on the daily. My newsfeed was literally flooded with lifestyle articles titled, “10 things you should be doing in order to have a successful relationship” and “Top 20 breakfasts you should be eating” and “In order to be happy you should be doing X”. Should should should. It was endless, and pretty damn tiresome.

Strangely though, I found myself simultaneously loathing the content of these articles, whilst also beating myself up for not being a more productive and involved member of society. I mean, here were all these things I should be doing clearly laid out in front of me, yet for some reason I felt no inclination to participate. In fact, I felt the opposite. Which only made me feel worse!

Now, before I go on, you’ll need to bear in mind that I’m a rather sensitive soul who possesses what can only be described as an overly-analytical mind, so a little over-analysis is to be expected when faced with these types of situations… 

With irritability going through the roof I was forced to really examine the situation, and eventually (thankfully!) came to realise that the incessant, unwarranted should-ing was to blame. That’s right, one little sh*t of a word had single-handedly managed to make me feel inadequate, unmotivated, and generally down in the dumps. And, to make things worse, the problem was being amplified by the fact that I was managing multiple social media accounts across multiple platforms for both business and personal use. The list of things I should be doing was growing longer by the minute, my real life felt lacking, and at the same time I was so overwhelmed by the insurmountable number of things I was apparently missing out on or not doing right that I ended up passing on social activities because they didn’t seem worthwhile. Actions which in hindsight seem totally and utterly ridiculous.

Should

Once I finally realised just how damaging the dreaded ‘shoulds’ could be, I decided to take a break from my online life. And guess what happened? I gained some much-needed perspective, ate many a delicious breakfast, enjoyed my perfectly imperfect relationship, and felt happy without a shred of advice from anyone. Finally, my mind was free from internet bullsh*t and the answer was right there in front of me: the only person I should be worrying about or listening to, is me. And now months later, back online and armed with this simple truth, the should-ing doesn’t bother me at all, in fact I’ve hardly even noticed it.

So it’s with this experience behind me that I now pose a question: if I had stumbled across a slightly more thought-provoking article that had let me know should was apparently the new black and everyone would soon be flaunting it around town, could I have reached my sanity-saving conclusion a little sooner? I’d like to think the answer is yes, and I’d like to hope that this could be that article for you, should you need it.