It’s the last day of January and holy shit wow. This month. We made it to the end of the week. The longest week of the year. What was this, a leap week? Are we on Venus? (A day on Venus = 243 Earth days and now you get my nerd joke).
First: Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter! It has been a long time in the making and I’m happy that you’re joining me for the ride.
Second: Those of you who pay attention to detail may have noticed that this first issue is out in, yes, January! But I said it was starting in February! IS NOTHING SACRED?!
Well, I’m sure we all have our own things that we consider sacred but I’m trying to tell myself (and now, you, dear readers) that not *everything* has to be sacred. What I’m getting at is that there are rules and boundaries that we impose on ourselves that <whispers> really aren’t that important.
Let me begin by saying: I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I am medicated for it and it is managed. When I talk about self-imposed rules, I’m mostly not talking about the things I do because of my OCD or the boundaries we put in place to protect our joy and sanity.
I mean rules like, “Well, I said I was going to start this newsletter in February so I can’t possibly send it out on January 31st because INTEGRITY.” Maybe you are deeply offended to be receiving this today. I don’t know. But my guess is, you don’t really care that it’s at least a day early. You could totally not read this until February, though honestly, if you’ve gotten this far, then, devil take the hindmost!
But what about bigger boundaries? The ones that are my tried-and-true, part of my identity?
I posted this on Instagram on Sunday morning:
Under an hour later, my wife’s best friend texted that he’s in town(ish) and would love to see us. That very same evening.
This is against all my rules. Driving an hour on a Sunday evening when we have to work the next day to see someone who didn’t give us a two-week notice at least? It would mean I would probably take my meds late. Which would throw off my sleep. Which would ruin my Monday.
My wife (Nicole) knows this. She is usually 100% on board.
But this is her best friend. Who lives on the other side of the country. And we haven’t seen him in at least 3 years.
So Nicole asked me to up-end our evening.
I adore her best friend. He is one of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. There was no way I was going to say no so I broke all my rules and said, “Yes. Absolutely we are driving to San Jose from Oakland and taking him to dinner at our favorite restaurant.”
And you know what happened?
We did just that and we laughed and ate and reminisced and caught up and had an amazing evening.
I also took my meds late. And I got to bed late and was basically unable to sleep so it fucked my Monday and SO WHAT? Did I die? No. Did I get to spend time with a loved one and see my wife super happy and eat my weight in soup dumplings? You’re damn right I did. And I slept Monday night and was back to normal (lol normal) on Tuesday.
My rules around this weren’t arbitrary. I had legit reasons. But if I held fast in this situation I would have denied myself, my wife, and her best friend so much more than I would have retained. Like I asked: Did I die? No. Was it the end of the world? Nope. Would I do it again? Probably.
So, it got me thinking. What are the ways we’re holding ourselves back from our own joy? In what ways are we sabotaging our own happiness because we’re hanging onto rules that really are okay to break occasionally?
If you, like me, are any sort of deviation from being a cisgender, heterosexual, white, abled man, then we already have too many overt and unspoken societal rules placed on us. The last thing I need is more rules. I’m trying to lighten up on myself and treat myself with the kindness I afford my loved ones. It’s a constant struggle, but breaking the occasional rule helps.
Again, thank you for subscribing and thank you for reading. I cannot and would not do this without you. We’re in this together.
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You can find me on Twitter and Instagram. You can find me podcasting about books on Book Riot and writing about who even knows what on my blog, Knee Sock Chronicles.