Umm, can I take that back? I am a bit uncomfortable putting that out there like that. I should be more congenial. Polite. Effacing.
But I long to be that woman who shirks others opinions of her. I should not care what you think. I want to be able to stand with my head held up in the air and defy your judgments or assumptions about how my hair doesn’t do my eye justices or what topics I should avoid like the plague on a first date. You tell me what supplements to imbibe to maximize my metabolism. I should pay attention more…
I have a proclivity to shoulding on my self….it’s quite easy for me to strive towards these maxims, or ideals of what my life needs to reflect, produce, engender, mean.
I should secure stable employment that supports the heft of my student loans, but speaks to my spiritual hungers.
I should live in a comfortable community that reflects the values I would espouse at cocktail parties—green living, tolerance, local commerce, nonviolence, access to education.
Preferring to stay at home than go out, I should by a home while it’s a buyer’s market, create a garden, quit trashing hard earned money on rent, and make more space for all those frivolous kitchen gadgets (ahh…dreaming of a yogurt maker…which would be stored next to my nifty pour, cook, bake, freeze, measure, to-go singe-girl size pot).
I should settle down soon, with a man that “can handle your ambition,” and since I work for kids, produce/adopt/sponsor, some of my own.
If not, I should procure a dog/cat, America’s primary substitute for human love. I should not feel guilty in the slightest sleeping with a dog in my bed (not of the homo sapien variety)
But since I am single, I should “get out there” and explore the world because “now is the time to do it”
Which entails another list of shoulds in the romance department: should try online dating, should try flirting more, should have a one night stand, should join a church to nab a husband, should be more coy, should allow him to take the lead, should just shut up and not try and let love come to me.
There is a whole host of shoulds that deal with my single-girl body:
I should throw out clothes not worn in 6 months, and spend a lot of money on flattering key pieces (more color, less black). I should sleep 8 hours, inhale a variety of fish oil, folic acid, and vitamin D (but should space them out for maximum absorption) I should splurge on organic apples but not pilfer money away on organic bananas. I should shampoo every other day, floss RIGHT NOW, should expend energy on cardio 5 times a week and resistance training 2 times.
. I should love and accept the shape of my body, but not indulge it too much, lest I become obese, slutty, or alcoholic.
I should die trying, but not try too hard because one shouldn’t over do it.
I don’t know where all these shoulds sprung, and I don’t care. I just know that I spend a lot of time kneeling at their altar, chasing after their false promises of health, security, happiness and ah, love.
And although I question their validity, understand their shams, they are constantly present, even as I am aware of the urge to defy them. I feel guilty that I am susceptible to them. I know, I know, I should stop shoulding