I’m starting up a new thing in 2019: Storytelling Saturday. The idea behind this came to me when i realised how many original illustrations I have, sitting in folders in storage. Rather than put continual pressure on myself to make new art, I realised all of my previous drawings could add value to it’s viewer and I’ve drawn about a lot of topics that are probably worth sharing again for those who have never seen them.
Each Saturday I will choose one drawing to reflect on and write about.
This one is about decision making and ‘shoulding’ on yourself.
I had a lecturer at uni once who often talked about how people experiencing depression and/or anxiety often experience a lot of ‘should’ thoughts. She calling it ‘shoulding on yourself’
Here’s some examples:
‘I shouldn’t feel like this, my life is good’
‘i should be happy’
‘I should get a ‘proper’ job because everyone else my age is doing so well’
‘I should do what makes my parents happy’
‘I should stop worrying so much, but I can’t’
‘I should be able to do _____…everyone else has no trouble doing that”
This picture deals with some shoulds, from personal experience.
I drew it in 2013, when i was about 19, and quite between two different worlds. I was struggling to choose which door to go through.
One door represented playfulness, childlike-ness, perhaps immaturity or foolishness, perhaps going out and doing irresponsible things: perhaps wanting to dodge responsibility. I have no comment on whether that door was ‘good’ or ‘bad’ it just was.
The other door represented different shoulds: my projected world of ‘grown up’ decisions which I viewed as banal, uninteresting, and hollow. This world seemed to consist mostly of making money, being highly responsible, and boring. The girl walking through that door would say things like ‘I should get a stable job to pay the bills’ or ‘I should choose convention because it’s safe’
In the drawing I ask the little maintenance man who is painting the walls which universe or door to go into. He was (and is) wise, and always knows how to help me.
His response was: ‘Don’t Stress, Just Nap’ In other words: Stop shoulding all over yourself, you have some time, you can be both playful and responsible, you don’t have to make it such a dichotomous choice right now.
In hindsight, I can also see that choosing either door because i felt I ‘should’ wouldn’t have lead to fulfilment. Making decisions out of some misguided obligation or sense of duty can never lead to true contentment.
‘Shoulds’ hold you to ransom and never let you make choices out of freedom.
Also, if you aren’t ready to walk through a particular door, you just aren’t ready, and that is okay too.
I’m glad I could rest in the ‘waiting room:’ the room designed for me that was void of both recklessness and the empty pursuit of stability. The maintenance man there is always better company than the other choices I was staring down.
The different doors still pop up from time to time and I think we are continually faced with those kind of decisions. I should go through this one, shouldn’t I? Which universe should I choose?
I think if I asked again today, the answer would be: Choose the universe that you can be yourself in. Choose the one you are ready for.