The Weight of Should


How is it possible for a six-letter word to carry such weight?

Maybe it’s been there all along, maybe I’ve just never noticed it before.

Never before have I felt the heaviness of this word. Each letter’s weight amplified under the pressure of expectations to be productive during this lull in normal life.

Trendy, stylish young woman in black dress and hat leans weight against carnival fair food truck
Trendy, stylish young woman with long dark hair in hat faces forward

Pressure to do.

Pressure to be productive.

Pressure to use the time.

Pretty girl eating candy apple in front of a ferris wheel
Pretty girl in trendy black dress and hat at carnival fair

So many things want to insert themselves after this word.

I should…

Do the laundry.

Work out.

Check emails.

Blog, shoot, edit.

Work on client relations.

Spend quality time with my husband.

Cook more.




Instagram (for business).

Call someone.

Call anyone.

Do yard work.

Get outside more.

Stay inside more.

Clean my kitchen.

Clean my closet.

Organize my closet.

Re-fold my drawers.

Make a to-do list.

Follow up on the to-do list.

Do the things that have been on my lost to-do list for the past year.

Young woman rides the carousel horses carnival ride at the county fair
Pretty young woman sits on steps at the county fair in the green light of a carnival ride

And this is only the positive part of this word. There is dark side that carries its own crushing weight as well.

The “Should-not’s.”

Pretty young woman half-illuminated by the bright lights of a carnival ride with the other half of her face in the dark side

I should NOT be…

Watching so much TV.

Eating so much sugar.

Checking my phone like an addict.

Playing so many games.

Sleeping in so late.

Eating dinner so late.

Drinking so much coffee.

Letting my laundry pile so high.

Staying in pj’s all day

Complaining about anything because others have it worse.

Comparing myself to others. (see above)

Pretty young woman in trendy clothes waiting in line by carnival ride lights
County fair carnival ferris wheel ride lit up at night

Why does this word dominate my thoughts? Infiltrating every action and scrutinizing my choices with the judgment of a high school “mean girl.”

Nothing ever reaches the ever-rising standard of this word. How could it, when the goal line is constantly changing; an unreachable finish line.

Perhaps these months at home have made space for this word to grow. Expanding into whatever space I allow and whatever ground I am willing to surrender quickly becomes overrun.

Pretty girl in black dress and hat on the carousel horse carnival ride

Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve pinpointed it’s source yet. Where that “Should” demand comes from? Maybe part of it is simply my unease with stillness and the fact that this stillness has glaringly exposed what my everyday hustle had once covered.

Pre-quarantine, the “Should’s” took care of themselves. They felt lighter in their demands. Simple in their expression, just a present (though maybe sometimes annoying) friend, helping you proceed through your day and take care of immediate needs.

Black and white photo of a pretty young woman with a trendy outfit name necklace and hat on head

But in the stillness, when these everyday tasks are no longer pressing. When the laundry can wait, I can call that person tomorrow and sweatpants are completely acceptable. When the normal daily expectations are flipped on their head. When actions taken during a day no longer have to be done. Where do I find my importance? What value do I have if I don’t have to do anything and the things I do are not truly needed.

Maybe, just maybe, these things I do have wiggled their way into my identity. They have become the things that I unknowingly use to build myself up. Molding them into the fabric of my foundation. Whittling them deep into my being, giving them influential space they never deserved to occupy. Somehow equating my accomplishments, tasks, and everyday “Shoulds” with my worth. 

When my worth is solely based on what I do, “Should” becomes the task master of all my motives and to stop doing these things is to LOSE some vital part of me. No, I haven’t REALLY lost a vital part but this uncovering, sitting in this silent space, is so uncomfortable.

Uncovered and uncomfortable.

Even writing this feels uncomfortable.

Stylish girl with long dark hair in trendy hat poses with arms crossed

Even now I find myself reaching for a “Should.” “Should” is what I want to quickly plug the uncovers parts with, to fill it up so I am once again in comfort. But covered holes are still empty. 

Pretty woman sits on steps at the county fair in the red light of a carnival ride

Gently raising the cover, I bravely face the imposter. To leave it filled is to miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity. To perhaps miss the revelation that comes from sifting through these once-covered places and more importantly miss out on the chance to fill them with something eternal.

Turning towards the uncomfortable I begin replacing these parts. Replacing them with truth that is not tied to the things I “Should” or “Should not” be doing, but rather a heavenly truth, instilled by my Creator and affirmed again and again by His word.

Pretty woman eating red candy apple in front of a ferris wheel

He says I am loved.

He says I am enough.

He says I am wonderfully made and I carry the delight of my Heavenly Father.

He whispers I am beautiful and carry His strength, His victory, in my veins.

He reminds me I rose with His breath and have been renewed by His Spirit.

Scenes of the cross flash across my mind, followed by pictures of one more empty hole.This one made by a perfect man who did not do as he “should” and stay in the ground. Instead, He did the impossible and made a way for me to follow.

Not so I would wade in the shallow ends of the “Should’s” and “Should nots” but so I could join Him in His great purposes. Walking instead with beautiful purpose that always believes in the possible. Not just going through life one burdensome “Should” after another but so, with Him and with the truth of who He’s made me, I “Can” and I “Will.”

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Virginia based, free spirited Boudoir
and Couples photographer, specializing in intimate and adventurous imagery that empowers women and re-ignites connection.

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