Feel Obligated, But Don’t Be Bullied

‘Don’t do something just because you feel obligated to do so.’

This advice is advice I’m trying to teach myself to take, but it’s taking practice. I first heard these words of wisdom at Ruby On Rails. This was one of the girls on the panel's advice for a young or inexperienced person going into the tech industry. However, I think it applies to life as well.

So often we start doing things that brutally tax our energy and attention, just because we feel obligated. If you’re in the corporate world, you will know that feeling of sitting in a meeting and wondering why you’re there well.

My first issue with taking this advice is how do I distinguish between feeling obligated and feeling slightly annoyed that I need to do something, but it’s a something that’s actually going to help me, so I should actually probably do it.

‘Oh, I feel obligated to get out of bed today, so I'm not going to. Ha, take that system.’

Because I’m obligated to both go to a useless meeting and get out of bed, but one is actually helping me become a better person, and the other is not.

So I decided there are two ways to go about understanding this advice.

  1. Decide that all feelings of obligation are social bullying and rebel against the system by quitting my job and running naked in the forest, buying a surfboard and shaving my head so I can get a head and neck tattoo.

  2. Decide that obligation is actually quite a useful tool if you don’t let it bully you.

Surprisingly, I am trying to incorporate the latter into my life, although option one is looking more and more inviting and will probably happen at some point.

You can feel obligated to do something. Visiting the parents, calling your mum, going to that meeting, but don’t be bullied.

Only use obligation as a tool to prioritise tasks, depending on your situation.