When I was three years old, my dad sent me to my room. He told me I had to sit on my bed until he said I could get up. So I sat on my bed—and stayed on my bed—while I shouted to him in the other room: “You’re not the boss of me! No one is!”
My parents have told this story many times over the years. I don’t actually remember the moment, but yet I have always felt it, deep in my core—this awakening of who I was going to be in the world. I wasn’t yet ready to actually get up off the bed in defiance, but I sat there, swinging my little legs back and forth, shaking my blond head and shouting: “You can’t tell me what to do! You’re not the boss of me!”
Over the years, sometimes I’d play along, and let other people be the boss (or maybe I was just letting them think they were the boss). But all along, deep in my heart, I’ve always known that I am the boss of me. And somewhere inside of me there was always that little girl, sitting on the bed, swinging her legs, silently shouting to teachers, friends, boyfriends, bosses, “You’re not the boss of me!”
Then one day I noticed how easily my feet touched the floor. I started to wonder what it would be like if I stood up. What if I didn’t just silently shout “you’re not the boss of me,” but actually stood up? What if I got off the bed to prove that no one’s the boss of me? Little by little, I tested out this idea, watching what happened each time I gave myself a promotion instead of waiting for someone else to give me one:
Go to college out of state. I’m working in the mailroom.
Move across the country. I’m in the secretarial pool.
Pursue the only career I ever wanted. I’m an assistant VP.
Declare my outrageous plans to travel the world. Executive VP.
Quit my job, strap on a backpack, and hit the road. I am the boss of ME.
It’s been seven years, and being the boss of me is the best job I’ve ever had. I choose where I will live, what kind of work I will do, who I will work with, who I will be friends with, what I will spend my time and money on, whether I will do this or that or the other thing… it is MY choice. No one is the boss of me but me. I do what I do because I want to be the boss of my life.
Are you letting someone else be the boss of your life? Are RULES your boss? The ones that say you have to go to college, study something “marketable,” get a job, work your ass off your whole life with two weeks of vacation a year, get married, buy a house and two cars and spend all your time paying for them?
I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t do any of those things—hell, I own an apartment and I’m getting married—but don’t just do them blindly because society or your parents told you to. Do them because YOU are the BOSS of YOU. You are in control of your destiny.
I’m tired of rules that say that there’s only one way to live. Tired of rules that say there’s a RIGHT and a WRONG way to do things. YOU find your own way—you’re the boss. When you’re the boss, you get to decide when to go to work, and when to take a break. You decide what you will work on. You decide what your business will focus on. You decide where the office will be located. You decide what kind of people you will work with. You don’t have to ask for anyone’s permission.
When you’re the boss of your life, you decide. You decide where you will live. You decide what kind of work you want to do. You decide IF buying a house is right for you, instead of going into crazy debt just because everyone else is doing it. You call the shots.
If you ever ask yourself why you’re doing something, and the answer is “because everyone else is doing it” or “this is the next step in life” or whatever, take a huge step back and reevaluate your decision. You are NOT being the boss of you. Society is being the boss. The status quo is being the boss. Your friends and family are the boss.
I’m giving you a promotion. You are the boss of you. Starting now.