You can do anything at all

It’s true: you’re free to do anything you want. Spend your time as you see fit; wear what you want to wear; participate in whatever communities feel like home to you. If what you’re doing doesn’t make you happy, try doing something else!

There’s a catch, though: everyone else has the same freedom. Other people will make decisions of their own accord, without consulting you first. You might not always like the choices others around you make, but they are simply not yours to decide.

Keep in mind that this statement isn’t meant to hold up to scrutiny; you could easily come up with a counterexample that demonstrates why doing literally anything you want (or enabling others to do so) is a dubious stance. Apply it judiciously, in conjunction with other considerations.

Here are some ways I apply this mantra:

  • If I feel like I’m wasting my time on a project, I don’t have to live by the sunk cost fallacy. I’m allowed to move on.
  • “Cringe” behavior usually boils down to people choosing to spend their time on things most would consider pointless. They’re allowed to do this. So are you!
  • Others can decide for themselves whether they want to engage with me or not. Reflecting on my own behavior is fine, but tunneling on one person ignoring / blocking me disregards their autonomy to do so.

“You can do anything at all” is one of my mantras.