Second grade was a year of great discovery for our young protagonist–me. I learned how to calculate payroll, I paper mached a life-size flamingo, and I held buffalo dung from the Oregon Trail. Can you say best year of my life?

I was also an avid reader. My book series of choice at the time was Cam Jansen. Cam Jansen was a fifth grade girl who solved mysteries with her photographic memory. All she had to do was say “click.” Cam Jansen was the reason I ran around saying click when I saw cool things. Sidenote: I still do this.

One day while reading Cam Jansen, I found the most offensive sentence I possibly could have at age seven. What the sentence said, I cannot precisely recall, but what I do remember is it began with “and.”

For all of you out there with any sense of the English language, you know you do not begin sentences with “and.” It’s basically a sin. I promptly rushed my book to Mrs. Carol and demanded she make sense of the abhorrent sentence structure.

Mrs. Carol sighed. She then explained how beginning sentences with “and” is a general rule, but the rule can be broken.

And everything changed.

That was the day I learned the English language sucks. I also learned that you can really do whatever you want.

Twelve years later I found myself listening to a lecture about the same lesson I had learned at age seven. For an hour, we discussed the phrase “hafta.” According to my professor, we do not “hafta” do anything. It is as if he read Cam Jansen books too.

How profound is it that we do not “hafta” do anything? How many times a day do we use the excuse of “I have to..”? Our obligations are not necessarily bad, but they may begin to control our actions. We are the ones in control of our actions. Free will all the way.

Do you have to go to the store to buy milk? Do you have to study 13 hours today for your test tomorrow? Do you have to have that makeup palette that costs more money than my private, four-year education? Probably not.

I wish I could better describe how much I dislike the phrase “have to.” Own up to the things you want to do, or do not do them. I say this like I never use the phrase “have to,” but in reality, I am a hypocrite.

I digress. The point of writing this is to say that you should do more of what you want to do and less of the things that suck the life out of you. There are a lot of life-sucking things, but the beauty of life is you do not have to keep doing them. It is as simple as that. You have the ability to make your own choices. Do not waste your life uselessly fettered to monotonous schedules and appointments. Live vicariously. Do not shoot down ideas because they seem crazy or unachievable. Just do it (Nike had it right all along!). Life is simpler than we make it out to be.

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