You should…

I don’t do well when I get told what to do.  There’s this statement ‘you should…’ that gets under my skin for some reason.  If I had a rough moment and someone says, “you should take the afternoon off.”, or “you should come get drinks with me.”  Or even if the person says, “you should look at teaching less”, or “you should tell that collaborator to fuck off” it just sits the wrong way.  Like I feel like they’re telling me they know what’s best for me.  I don’t know why I hate it so much.  Honestly, people are probably just giving me unsolicited advice, and I should be grateful they care enough to give me the advice, but I don’t feel grateful.  I really fucking hate it.  This probably has this deep-seeded psychological basis in the fact that there was a lot of pressure on me as a youth from my parents, but honestly, I don’t care.

When I was in industry I had a reputation for selectively following orders and being difficult to wrangle, which definitely hurt me professionally.  And I definitely ended more than one relationship when mansplaining goes on.  Often if someone tells me I should do something, I don’t do it just because I’ve been told I should do it.  I wish I could just follow along and when someone says I should do it, I just do it, but it’s ingrained in my DNA to despise being told what to do.  I think I associate the word ‘should’ with them telling me that they know me better than I know me.  If I really should do something then shouldn’t I know already?  I kind of associate it with nagging, which I’ve never been good at being on the receiving end of.

There have been times I’m okay with it, when the person has really valid points: like my former adviser when talking grants, or an old boss when balancing budgets, but I really can’t stand it.  Maybe I’m just really hard-headed.  The hermit-life is looking more and more appealing every day.


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