I have a confession. I am a justification-aholic.
Yes, I made that up. And yes, I can explain.
I realized lately that I spend and exorbitant amount of time justifying my actions. Whether it is something little, like justifying the piece of pizza I ate for lunch, or something big, like all the times I’ve had to explain to people why I moved to Florida. I always feel this constant pressure to have a good reason for literally everything I do and every decision I make.
If I choose to sleep in for an extra hour, or eat out for dinner instead of cooking, or cancel plans with a friend, I need a good, valid, reason for doing so. And I need people to know that I had a good reason. I’ll tell anyone who will listen about how “I went out for pizza because I’m out of groceries and I’m going out of town this weekend, so shopping wouldn’t have been as practical because with cooking I would have had leftovers that would have gone bad before I got home and blah blah blah.”
And you know what, the random pizza delivery person really didn’t need to know all that.
Sometimes justifying something is valid. I mean, yes, I’m sure my friends would like an explanation on why I have to cancel plans at the last minute. And yea, your husband may want to know why you purchased the newer, fancier car rather than leasing the old model like you’d previously agreed. And, here’s a crazy thought, but I would like a politician to justify why they’re making a choice that may hurt me.
The problem for me is distinguishing when I owe someone justification vs. when I owe myself grace.
Recently I’ve been feeling guilty about some decisions I make with my work schedule. For example, I gave up a shift last night so that I could go to an audition. People at work are giving up and picking up shifts all the time, so it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal. So why did I need to convince myself it was okay? Before I even confirmed the release, I was telling myself it was okay because I often picked up for other people, so no one can accuse me of being lazy. And I already made the money I needed this week on other shifts, so I would still be okay financially. And I had this callback for a job I’m really excited about, so that is definitely a worthy reason to miss work.
You want to know something? I guarantee you no one at that establishment cared that Amanda Boldt gave up her shift on a Thursday night. My bosses aren’t going to think I’m lazy and none of my coworkers probably even noticed, let alone cared.
In this instance, there was absolutely no need for justification.
Some of you may have no idea what I'm talking about. You may be able to make decisions easily and without needing any sort of consultation or permission. I, a chronic over thinker, am not that lucky.
When I justify things, I’m really just asking for someone else to tell me the decision I made is okay. I’m asking someone else to validate when I choose my self care or even when I have a cheat day. I’m desperately needing someone to tell me I’m doing a good job and that I’m not lazy, or a fraud, or a bad person.
By over-justifying everything, I’m giving other people power over my peace rather than being content with my own choices.
Well, here is a lesson for myself and whoever else needs to hear it. You don’t need permission to prioritize what you want. You don’t need a good reason before you can make a choice that benefits you. You are worthy of making decisions to live a happy and healthy life. No need for justification.
Maybe for you, this means finally buying that action figure from your favorite show and displaying it proudly. Then when people come over and ask “why do you own this,” your answer can be as pure as saying “it makes me happy.” No further justification required. (This example is in no way a direct correlation to the fact that I own cardboard cutouts of the Royal Family.) Or maybe the next time you really need a mini vacation, you’ll feel okay taking a personal day off work. Your office will exist without you, and if you need a day off, you deserve it. You don’t need a good reason.
The problem with justifying everything we do, is feeling pressure to justify our joy.
Society will say that doing something just because it makes us happy isn’t a good enough reason. You need to be practical and productive above all else, so explain yourself for why you’re choosing something as simple as your happiness.
Society may say all that, but I say joy is the most noble reason of all.
What if from now on we decide not to justify away our joy, but instead choice joy unashamedly? We can give ourselves grace to make the joyful choice before the acceptable one. Make a fun decision before we choose to remain in a box.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but maybe it can be that simple. Maybe, starting today, I can just choose to be happy. No permission required and no need for justification.