Why Do We Seek Permission From Others To Live Our Own Goddamn Lives?


It’s such fucking bullshit, the way you look to your boss, your best friend, your parents, your barista, for an okay on every decision you make.

YOU. You are the only one who is an authority on you.

Know this: we’re all terrified. All absolutely clueless about why we’re here, and what it is all supposed to mean. So we look to each other for reassurance. We validate our choices, our actions, by aligning them with those of the people around us – and they are doing exactly the same. Silently, we’ve all agreed on a certain set of social norms, ways of being that make everyone feel a tiny bit less scared, and the moment one of us goes off-course, it throws everybody into a panic. So we copy each other like brain-dead parrots, swimming around the goldfish bowl of life safe and unchallenged, ready to die having never fucked up, and having never really tasted what it is to live.

There are two ways to do this. There’s their way, and there’s your way. Their way has been done before. It is tried-and-tested. Safe. Has an almost certain outcome. It’s easy to do it Their Way, because the road to where they are is well worn and visible. We can see it. Understand it. Other people like it when you do things their way, because it validates the decisions they’ve made. Reassures them they’re doing it right. So they encourage it. Hey! They say. Come on in! The water’s fine!

Fine isn’t good enough for you.

Doing it your way is less certain. Your way hasn’t been done before. Your way is unfamiliar, and we don’t like things that are unfamiliar because we’ve been taught that the unfamiliar is too much of a gamble by the people who can’t take a gamble themselves.

When you do things differently to the crowd, it forces the crowd to ask the questions they’d successfully avoided.

“Is this enough?”

“Am I happy?”

“What would I do if I wasn’t so afraid?”

What would you do if YOU weren’t so afraid?

Stop waiting for the green light. Quit hanging around for the big announcement that YES! YOU ARE HEREBY GRANTED PERMISSION FROM THE WORLD AT LARGE TO DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO! YOU GO DO YOU!

It’s not coming, babe. The permission to love your body, to shout about what you’re good at, to love who you want (and how). Permission to do more of this and less of that, to make your own schedule, take control of your own plans, to be able to say THANKS, BUT ACTUALLY I THINK I’D PREFER TO DO IT LIKE THIS INSTEAD.

You’ve got to give yourself permission.

Permission to ask why. Permission to wonder. Permission to dream.

If the thought of a 9-5 office paralyses you with fear – don’t get a 9-5 office job. Quit the one you’ve got. If you hate SoulCycle, don’t effin’ SoulCycle. Hate brogues? Throw ‘em in the trash. You don’t have to drop a fifty on brunch, get a master’s just in case, or say yes to the proposal because you’re the only friend on Instagram without a wedding hashtag.

You can be single or in an open relationship. Own six homes or just the bag on your back. Make your money in landscape architecture, or high finance. You can have a kid if you want. Or not. You can wake up at 6 a.m. every single day, or sleep til noon. Take your water half-gas, half-flat. Start your days with a fan dance in a pair of fucking nipple tassels, if you like.

Define yourself on your own terms. Be true to you. To what you want. Being the most authentic version of yourself if the highest definition of success there is. When we’re not honouring our truest selves, we make poor decisions, and those decisions ultimately make us feel even shittier. Cue, then, more lackluster life choices, because we’re exhausted from mediocrity, until we anesthetize ourselves with the cold knowledge that everyone else is doing it this way so we must be okay.

There isn’t a right way to do this – they’ll try to tell you that there is, but there isn’t, and you gotta tattoo that to your forehead, backwards, so that every morning when you brush your teeth you’re reminded that whilst there’s no right way MARK MY WORDS there’s a wrong way. The wrong way to do it, to do life, is switched off. Unaware. The way that everyone else does it because that’s the way it has always been done.

Dare to be different.

Dare to be yourself.