During Christmas of this year, I went and spent a night with one of my very best friends, Brittany. We backpacked Europe together in 2015 and returned again in 2016 and share a burning passion for travelling and just life in general. And so, we’re chatting about life, and relationships, and our intuition, and heartbreak etc., over a glass of wine, when we, yah know, casually began sharing our philosophies on life.
Brittany, like me, is a social worker. She works in the field of mental health and addictions, and she is simply one of the funniest and, at the same time, philosophical people that I know. I credit part of it to her aboriginal heritage, and the rest to her openness, and her way of being in this world that is comprised of this really trying to get where you’re at way of being in this world…
And anyway, I’m feeling a bit blue because just a year ago I’d gotten engaged and I’d been feeling terrible about the whole thing. And so she looks at me with total, tender kindness and compassion and announces that we’re going to do a smudge to clear the negative energy in the room. I mean, like you would, right?
So through the tears, I see her fumbling with a feather and a bowel and sage and I smile at her.
“You know Brit,” I said. “My philosophy in life has always been: if you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything.”
And then I explained it.
If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything, I would tell myself over and over again. In every situation up to this point in my life that was my philosophy. If I knew what needed to be done then by extension I’d know what to do. Until then, I’d always thought it best to just sit and wait for the answer, whatever answer I was seeking at that moment in time, to strike me, to come to me. As though I expected it to come to me on a shiny platter, or in neon lights while I drove by.
I mean the answers did and do, it seems, eventually come. Sometimes, even when those answers have come, I have turned a blind eye, not wanting to face and accept whatever was right there in front of me. And sometimes those answers have taken years.
This philosophy, it turns out, had kept me from making a lot of big, and tough decisions. In some instances, it’s worked to keep me, well, stagnant. I’ve stayed in jobs, in cities, in unhealthy friendships and in relationships of all sorts because I’d felt that if I really knew what I wanted, that I’d have the answer. That I’d do what needed to be done.
And so I’m explaining all of this to Brit and watching her as she thinks meaningfully about what I’d just said. And she says to me, yah know, that she likes that. Pretty sure she used the word interesting. And while she likes it, she says that hers is different.
Hers is, “if you don’t know, you know.” In other words, if you find yourself questioning a relationship, or a friendship or your career, or whether you want a side of chef salad, that the very fact that you’re not sure about it means by default that something isn’t right. That you, in essence, probably just don’t want it.
It was like, all the lights suddenly came on. I’d, for whatever reason, never thought about it that way. I was always waiting for the answer to strike me. Always waiting for some divine intervention or some moment of total clarity. Whereas Brittany on the other hand, when she finds herself in a situation where she’s questioning her happiness, looks to the question as a sign in and of itself and becomes an active participant in her life story.
Sometimes, well, perhaps even most times, it’s easier to just continue on as you are. Change is hard. So, so hard. And therefore, maybe you’re trying your best to make something work that just isn’t working. And subconsciously, whatever it is that you are questioning, you’re questioning it for a reason.
What I’m saying is this: If you have to ask yourself if you’re happy, then there’s a good chance that you’re not happy. I know that when I feel truly happy, I’m not sitting around asking myself, “Yo Mandy, are you happy?” Nope. I’m too busy being happy. I know I’m happy. I don’t need to ask myself.
And life, my friends is so short, much to short to question and question and question and wait and wait and wait for the answer. It’s also too short to neglect those answers when they do come.
Now, there’s a second piece to this as well for me. And that’s this. I do have anxiety disorder and thus, I question most things on repeat no matter what. I question everything and I don’t think it’s a healthy idea to jump ship on anything and everything because you’re questioning some piece of it. It’s human to question and observe. And I also think it’s important. It’s when those questions are on repeat, or filled with some form of dread, or you’re trying to push those same questions out of your mind so you don’t have to face the answers that there’s a serious problem.
So, I’ve decided that I’m going to merge these two philosophies into this overarching umbrella idea. The Brit-M philosophy as I like to call it, goes like this:
“If you don’t know what to do, wait a little while. If you find yourself continuing to ask yourself the same question over and over, and the question persists for a period of time, and you still don’t know, then you know.”
And, so, there you have it. Another night of drinking wine, and somehow trying to discern the meaning of this life and how best to move with the tides instead of against them.
Happy Friday folks,