Try This: Make an 'I Don't' List

A photo of a reflection on a building window where you can see the street on the other side. On the window is neon yellow text saying "that's not my problem"
Original Photo by Aneta Pawlik.

Do you feel a constant need to do everything? Like, everyyyyythiiinnngggg?

No pressure, but there are about five billion things you should be doing to Live Your Best Life and you also should be taking the time to reflect on all of them to become an elevated being.

Orrrrrr... you could just not.

Enter the 'I Don't' list, created by Australian blogger Mama Mia. It's a list of things you don't do, or worry about, so that you can have a nice, sane life that is actually fulfilling instead of scrambling around, trying to be (or at least appear) fulfilling.

I LOVE THIS. It sets you free. It means that when you see an article, ad, or social media post that reminds you of some aspect of Having it All you are missing, you can remind yourself, "Nope, I don't do that", and move on with your day.

My I Don't List:

I don't make particularly fancy or even "nice" meals.

I don't go out of my way to shop organic. (Mostly due to money, but still.)

I don't have a perfectly-curated home.

I don't really avoid screens.

I don't read the books that I'm "supposed" to in order to be a smart and interesting person and instead read things I think are fun. (I also don't force myself to finish a book if I'm not enjoying it.)

I don't engage in political arguments on the internet. (Most of the time.)

I don't really bother removing hair from my body.

I don't remember appointments or dates unless they're in my calendar.

I don't turn off the TV to do yoga.

I don't use fancy skin creams.

I don't read every article sent to me by a friend or that I "saved for later", nor do I read many articles in their entirety.

I don't count how many servings of vegetables I have every day.

I don't sit down every morning and plan my day.

I don't try to make every single idea I have into a concrete Thing.

Some of these things I wish I did. Some I intend to do. But ultimately, I don't do them--or barely do them. And maybe that's okay, given all the other things that fill my time.

I was originally going to write about how I think this concept needs to be embraced by everyone, not just women (the original article speaks directly to women). "Yes," my argument would have gone, "women are under particular pressure to Have it All and be our Best Selves, but everyone suffers under our hyper-pressured capitalism, attention economy, and Be Awesome culture, not just women."

Then my mind flashed through my past relationships as well as those of my friends. Partnerships where the woman is still carrying the weight of social planning, keeping track of birthdays, thinking about the quality of their communication, and generally doing all that emotional and household labour stuff.

So then I thought that maybe men don't need an I Don't list. They comfortably noped out of a lot of these peripheral responsibilities a long time ago.

Then I changed my mind again (isn't this rollercoaster fun?): men are still pressured to Be Awesome, just in different ways, and in ways that just so happen to push all that other stuff onto women's plates. So, if we are looking at your stereotypical male, perhaps he just needs a different kind of I Don't list, one that includes things like vying for leadership roles that suck their souls out through their wallet because they have to be breadwinners, hitting the gym, hiding their tears, or pretending they aren't interested in the Great British Bake Off.

If this Stereotypical Man were to let go of all that stuff, would he have more capacity to do things like keep track of the allergies his kids and their friends have? MAYBE!

(Obviously, I am speaking in wide generalizations that come from societal norms and a gender binary, not individuals.)

So, people of the internet, what expectations exhaust you? What do you feel society is pushing you to do that you wish would just chill out? What additional things are you "supposed" to do that get in the way of your ability to have things like rest and meaningful relationships?

What could you push from your To Do or I Should list to your I Don't list?


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