Very few things stress me out as much as the idea that I have to do something. I get this idea in my head a lot. For example, I took ten days off running in order to rest my shins, and yesterday was my first day back. Today I came home from work going, "Okay, I really need to cross train today, maybe I should drive down to the gym right now and do some stairmaster; but I could really stand to get a nap in, so probably I should go sleep for an hour and a half and then work out and then I can shower in time for my hair appointment...."
You get the idea.
Sometimes I forget that I don't have to do anything. The entire cause-and-effect relationship of getting stuff done is, rather, founded on the idea of "If/then:" if I want this, then I must do this; but I don't absolutely have to do anything at all. I don't have to want anything and I don't have to do the things that would get me what I want. And in general, if I really want to be doing something, chances are I'm probably doing it already. Chances are you'd have to drag me away from it at gunpoint, and prove to me that the thing is loaded.
The idea "I have to" has many insipid forms that are a lot harder to recognize. The cross-training idea was one thing, but what really got me started writing this post was the following:
Tonight, I am going to see my friend play a show at my friendly neighborhood dive bar. I was invited to the show on Facebook, so the guest list was available, and of course I checked it. And it turns out that a guy that we're going to refer to as Mr. Expensive will be there.
Mr. Expensive stresses me the f*ck out. First of all, I think he's like an eleven on the ten scale of attractiveness (really, he's like second to James Franco), so of course anytime he's in the same room as me I'm a klutzy, dropping-stuff mess. Secondly, he's good friends with my good friend, and I've met him like fifty times, and I'm pretty sure he still has no idea who I am. He has never greeted me by name, doesn't appear to remember details about me, recognizes my face but avoids lengthy conversation. I friend requested him on facebook like two years ago, and it's still pending. As far as I can tell, to him I am, like, mousy.
My theory on this is that Mr. Expensive likes expensive things. Things that it requires a lot of work to acquire, or things that are so valuable that they're inherently costly. And I think he likes expensive people, too: people like our mutual talented friend, who puts on a hell of a show with a loop pedal and a violin; or girls who require a lot of work. Now, I'm a lot of things, but I don't really require a lot of work. I'm trusting, and friendly, and I tend to err on the side of too nice. (He's wealthy and doesn't like me so I feel justified in making these assumptions. Especially because I don't know him at all and can't get him to talk to me for more than forty seconds. Clearly, I have insight into this man's psyche.)
All of that is not the point. The point is that, anytime I know Mr. Expensive is going to be in my general vicinity, I start feeling like I have to: I have to be cool, have to look good, have to ignore him or have to talk to him, etc., etc., etc. He sends me on an I have to rampage.
But the fact is, no I f*cking don't.
I don't have to do a g*ddamn thing. I can show up wearing a lampshade and some artfully placed hedge shears if I want to. I can pirouette around the room all night (assuming I could actually execute one of those, much less dozens, which is doubtful). I can do, quite literally, whatever I want.
Now, if I want something particular from him, like positive, non-weirded-out attention, then of course there is a course of action that must be taken in order to attain it--but guess what? I have no idea what it is. I don't even know the guy.
Unfortunately, I don't have any lampshades in my size, but I do have clothes I actually feel comfortable in, and people I enjoy talking to who will probably be there tonight. Not to mention a pair of panties I should probably untwist.