“You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.”
One of Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets of Adulthood
When I came this quote for the first time, I was relieved and disappointed.
Relieved because it helped me admit what I truly do and don’t like.
Disappointed because I desperately want to like some of the things I don’t: Concerts. Football. Cooking. DIY projects. I can choose to do those things, but I may never like them.
Part of growing up is accepting ourselves as we are. There is room for growth and change, certainly, but only when we first honestly assess ourselves, as we are today.
When it comes to the superfluous extras of life, maybe we don’t need to change. Maybe we need to just accept our preferences and move on.
Me? I wrap my identity in this stuff. I want to be a “fun” person, and fun people like concerts. I want to share interests with my dad, and he likes football. I fear that my role as a friend, wife, and daughter is at stake if I admit my true preferences.
But it’s not. The truth is that people love me for who I am, and the people close to you love you for who you are, including your likes and dislikes.
When it comes to holiday celebrations, there are probably parts you enjoy and parts you dread.
Is it possible that the parts you dread are optional? Things you choose to do because you don’t want to let someone down, because it’s what “good” moms do – things you desperately want to like, but just don’t?
Opting out of some things might feel Grinchy, but spending the month feeling burdened and heavy isn’t very celebratory, either.
What if you don’t like ice skating? Maybe being cold and sore for three days isn’t worth the whimsical Instagram post of you holding hands with your sweetheart on the rink.
Don’t hear me say that you should only do what you like and what you feel like doing, no matter what. Serving others means setting aside your own preferences sometimes.
We’ve all experienced the joy of doing something we might not choose to do on our own, but we know will bless someone else. I might not choose to spend an afternoon watching a football game, but I will to spend time with my dad.
What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t put pressure on ourselves to enjoy things we don’t because of some vague idea that we should enjoy them.
Your identity does not depend on whether you make handmade gifts or homemade treats for your neighbors or send holiday cards.
Your identity is who you really are, at the core, after you strip away all the preferences and pretenses.
What you like and dislike doesn’t define you, but you’ll enjoy yourself much more if you’re honest about it.
If that means making 100 wreaths, do it. If that means buying slice and bake cookies so you can make the memories without the mess, do it.
When it comes to holiday extras, remember that they are optional. It might be important to exercise even if you don’t like it, but no one’s going to die if you don’t decorate a gingerbread house.
What holiday stuff are you opting out of?