Should too

'Should' 'Too'

Two very small, seemingly innocuous words.  

“I think Bruce is coming too.”

“That dress should look beautiful on you.”

However, they can be hurtful and judgemental in temperament as well.

“You’re too loud.”  

“You’re too competitive.”  

“You’re too intimidating.”

It’s so easy when giving what we think is encouraging advice to be oblivious to the underlying tone. What exactly does ‘too’ mean?

“Too loud” . . . compared to what? To your preference? To the given norm of the social circle? 

When I was growing up, my parents would always caution me about my laugh. It was too loud, too unladylike. For years I would try to restrain my volume, resulting in strange strangled guffaws which still got me some sideways looks. 

It took a loving friend to tell me, years ago, that my laugh brightened a room and was recognizable in any gathering. It was my signature, and something I should hold dear. It was a turning point that allowed me to accept those things I couldn’t change about myself.

“You should tell him to get out!” 

“You should never let your kids talk to you that way!”  

“You should forget about it and move on.”

Should is a word delivered without empathy, for the situation the person is in. Should and shouldn’t are also subjective in context. Within whose parameters do you define ‘should’?  Everyone feels things in a different way and reacts within their own experiences. What worked for you may not be an option, or work for them.

During Sunday’s Oscar presentation, Lady Gaga performed a powerful solo called Til It Happens To You. The ballad is a tribute to both the male and female survivors of sexual assault, and alludes to the well-meaning but misplaced advice from family and friends that they ‘should’ just move on and forget about it. That they ‘shouldn’t’ let the assault define them. Her impassioned performance shouts back that you have no idea what they’re feeling until it happens to you.    

Comparative advice is a double-edged sword. “Try to be more like so-and-so”, or, “You should not feel like that.” I know it leaves me feeling that much more wrong, that somehow I am not measuring up.  

Nobody is ‘too’ anything. It’s just the way they are wired. It’s who they are, or choose to be. They feel deeply, and if they immerse themselves into life in such a way as to be perceived ‘too’ something, well good for them!

No matter how lovingly said, those two words can hurt. Use them wisely.        


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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

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