Why is it that some people seem to do exciting and interesting things, while we are stuck behind doing the same old ordinary stuff? There’s a lot of reasons, of course, involving money and personality and free time. But sometimes, it might be permission. You see, some people don’t feel like they need to ask permission from anyone else to go and do something different. Something non-standard, something that maybe a lot of other people would love to do, but don’t feel like they are allowed to just decide to do.

Well, that’s a heap of crap. You can do whatever you want. So why don’t you?

Our feeling of permission comes from all around us, our beliefs about what makes a good, sensible, caring person in our society. We get some of this from our parents – being told No could push you either towards more boundary pushing or towards submission to a more normal way of living. We’re scared of the unknown, whereas some people love this.

We wonder what other people might say. Any course of action that’s not in keeping with the ‘normal’ for the group of people you hang around with will make you feel like it’s forbidden. I remember at one point feeling like it wasn’t OK to move into a slightly bigger house, for example, and we’re not talking about anything outrageous.

In any community of people, there are established rules and norms. These help us to have our identity, and so we can feel like we’re disrespecting people or turning our back on our upbringing, or refusing to conform. But you know that if you had different friends you’d have a different idea of what is normal? You’d have permission to do a whole lot of other stuff, and maybe a lot of what you’re doing now might be out of bounds.

Personally I would only really rule something out if it was actually going to hurt someone, or irrevocably damage some core relationships. Everything needs to be carefully considered of course, but if you just don’t feel like people will ‘let you’ do something new, and you only have that as a sort of feeling that people are going to sort of shun you if you did it… well, then, I’m going to give you permission. If it’s an adventure, or something burning inside of you to do, maybe you need to do it. Maybe you need to be one of the people that shows the rest of the world that yes, there are other ideas out there, and yes, if you want to be the kind of person who does something new, you can decide that without needing someone to approve it.

When we moved to France, we talked a lot about whether it was OK that we just decided we wanted to, and then did it. Can you do that? Can you just decide to go somewhere else? Apparently, yes. And apparently, it helps take some of the fear out of other people who might be considering something similar. Because now, it’s not as unknown.

You could have all kinds of reasons why not to do that new thing. Some of them are very valid, and need to be respected. But if you’re just wondering vaguely whether ‘they’ will think it’s OK, that’s not a good enough reason. You are allowed.