You may hate being told what to do. 

Or you may love it. 

Being told what to do may be the absolute worst thing, to get you to take action. 

Or it may work like a charm. 

People have very different relationships with and experiences of control and agency— and neither is “right.” 

The “right” relationship to control and agency is the one that works for YOU. 

There are a lot of people who will tell you that the only “right” way to respond to being controlled is to rebel— that no one should be able to tell you what to do. 

I agree that no adult should be forced to do anything against their will. That, in the end is slavery, and slavery is never okay— no matter what it comes disguised as. 

But I also think that a lot of people have been made to feel bad, inadequate, or unintelligent because their experience of submission is one of relief and freedom. 

For some people, it’s a normal and healthy impulse to submit to guidance and mentorship that they choose (and which they can opt out of when they choose). 

My point is not that either response to control and agency is “right.” 

There are lots of different people in the world with lots of different motivational matrices and learning styles. 

What motivates me might infuriate you. 

What causes me to try harder and take risks might make you rebel and shut down. 

What’s more, what motivates me in some situations or with some people might completely infuriate me and lead to a meltdown in other situations. 

It’s our responsibility to always be gathering data on what works for us. 

Even if you’re the type of person who functions better when you’re being closely guided and supervised, it’s STILL your responsibility to know what works for you— and to seek out situations and relationships that fit your motivational style. 

I’ve seen lots of people try, and try, and try to cram themselves into someone else’s idea of what works for them. 

I’ve seen people who naturally crave a great deal of freedom, autonomy, and creativity try to submit themselves to the mentorship or leadership of other strong personalities— with disastrous results. 

I’ve also seem people who are naturally more comfortable with submitting to the structure, guidance, and instruction of someone else, try to assume leadership roles they didn’t wan tor need…with equally disastrous results. 

What works for you is what works for you. 

You don’t need to justify it. 

You don’t need to feel bad about it. 

You don’t need to fit perfectly into someone else’s “box.” 

See clearly and seek out what works for you. 

Whether you function better from the top or the bottom— seek it out. 

Whether you work best at a faster or slower pace— seek it out. 

Whether you need a lot of structure or more creativity and flow— seek it out. 

No one’s going to seek it out for you. 

Once we quit apologizing for who we are and what we need, and assume responsibility for seeking it out, our life changes dramatically. 

The road ahead might be tough when we’re clear on and committed to our needs. But building stable, healthy self-esteem is worth it. 


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