Week 4. Responsibility and duty
The word “responsibility” isn’t very “sexy” nowadays. When I was growing up, responsibility was everything there was. There were no other things, as kids, we had to do certain things to “gain access” to play time, if any. This was the case for me and most of the kids I knew. I was 21 years old when I first heard of the concept of “want”. I didn’t know that I could want something before that. This just wasn’t in my realm of possibilities so I never thought much of it but when you step into the world, all of a sudden you have to know what you want. All the while you haven’t heard the word “want” in any positive context before, only wants there were, were the burdens to parents. If you want something that equals that it’s an extra expense or inconvenience so suck it up, move aside that want of yours and move along. Then, when you have no idea what kind of clothes you like because you grew up on hand downs, when you don’t know what pizza toppings you like, suddenly you have to know what you want to do next with your life, what kind of career you want to go towards. It gets a little puzzling to say the least. But that was the old days, at least I hope.
These days kids view responsibility quite differently, I suppose. Of course, there’s everything at all times but the majority of cases I see are mostly about wants and much less about responsibilities. I think, there’s a sweet spot in between those two and it’s up to us to find it but way before we do that, it’s crucial to understand where our sense of responsibility comes from. Was it a guilt tripping mechanism for you to take on much more than you should? Were you allowed to ask questions to understand the WHY? Were you able to say no to a task or anything that was assigned to you had to be completed impeccably, otherwise there were consequences? What feelings come up when you hear/ say/think about the word “responsibility”? Does it bring up a feeling of being capable, proud at the end of your task or does it make you shrink, be afraid, feel guilty? Can you hear/remember what words were said to you regarding responsibility from parents, elders, teachers, coaches or other authorities in your life? All of these questions can shine a light on how you view responsibility and why you enjoy or reject it.
Responsibility as a term for me feels more private, something that I take on, that I accept. Duty on the other hand sounds more official. Well Cambridge Dictionary confirmed that. Duty is a word used for talking about work, something you legally or morally are obligated to do. There’s less space for choice, questioning or variables, it’s more about yeses or nos, rights or wrongs. If a person is in a position of duty, there’s not a lot of wiggle room for wants. Even if they would choose something they would want more, in a context of duty it could come and bite them back to still go and do the right thing. I agree, sometimes it could feel daunting, restricting but sometimes it opens the door for us to want to do the right thing. Not because of some law, duty or because someone else said so but because we have an inner moral compass that leads us to do what’s right and in extension, doing the right thing does feel good. Well, most of the time. I do acknowledge that in some cases doing the right thing sucks and it even might bring some pain with it. Sometimes short lived, sometimes even in the long run. But as I’ve said, there’s everything at all times and not all situations or people are fair.
On the other hand, life flows differently when you know what responsibility and duty are to you, where did the original definitions come from and how you can construct them to fit into your life today. When you choose your responsibilities and duties, invite the ones that you really want into your life, it becomes fuller and more meaningful, at least that’s what people say. This week I invite you to have courage to ask those questions, find what matters to you and take responsibility for it. Doesn’t matter big or small, it could be taking care of a new pet, a hobby that you’re starting, a family that you’re planning, if you choose it, it hits different.
Have a fulfilling week