Please, Stop Telling Me to Lighten Up

“You’re young, relax! You need to lighten up and have fun.”

Ah, my favorite piece of unsolicited advice…

I’m a serious person. I always have been. I am laser focused. I’m ambitious, and I go after what I want relentlessly. I protect what and who I love fiercely and if you try and disrupt that… you’re out. It’s something I feel strongly about and will not compromise on. But yet, everyone feels entitled to give advice on how I should live my life.

“You’re too attached to your family. You need to separate yourself and find out who you are.”

Well thanks but, I’ve know who I was since I was 5-years-old. Don’t get it twisted. I’m not lost. I don’t need finding. Maybe I live my life differently than you, but please don’t project you lack of self-awareness onto me. I’m just fine. Oh, and I actually I like my family. Bye.

“You need to have fun every once in a while and relax!”

Can we acknowledge that the concept of “having fun” is subjective and will be different for everyone? Revolutionary thought, I know.

Me having fun a lot of the time is going to Starbucks and working on my side hustle on Saturdays.

Me having fun, is opting out of happy hour to work out and eat dinner at home.

Me having fun is not getting completely obliterated on Saturday night so I can go to Mass on Sunday morning and make my afternoon workout.

I’m focused. I take my career, my family, my friends…my goals very seriously. I show up for the people in my life to a loyal fault. I’m not trying to “lighten up.”

There is this notion that people are one dimensional. They aren’t. I am all the above things, but I’m also fun, sarcastic, independent, spontaneous, strong and goofy. I go out with friends and relax with family when I feel like it.

People derive self-satisfaction in different ways. For me, I like to be regimented and focused the majority of the time—that’s what makes me feel good. Other people who are just as focused and ambitious as I am can go out and party 5 days a week and that’s what makes them feel good. Too each their own I say.

Humans are multidimensional. We are contradictions and that’s okay. Give yourself permission to be both. You don’t have to choose… and that is beautiful. Be all the things and embrace your complexity. Do and be what brings you peace. “Lighten up” and “have fun” on your own terms. You have nothing to apologize for.

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Gabrielle Gentile

Gabrielle Gentile is a 24-year-old Cleveland native. She works in the Commercial Leadership Program at GE Healthcare where she plans to pursue a career in sales. Gabrielle has a huge passion for equality and women’s empowerment, which led her to numerous leadership roles with female focused groups and her position with SheInTheCLE. She believes in lifting others up and helping women find their voice and confidence both in their personal and professional lives. When she is not at her day job, you can find Gabrielle at 5 a.m. OrangeTheory or running around town training for her next race. While she may be a bit or a cardio junkie, Gabrielle’s passion for her work and helping others achieve their goals is the driving force behind everything she does.

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Gabrielle
    You have been on top of your life and what you want from it from the time you uttered your first words. We all own the decisions we make. Having high expectations of yourself and others is a good thing. Unfortunately, most people aren’t as focused or as dedicated as you are. You hold out for the people who are…because they are out there. Thank God you are a confident and self aware young woman. Go Gabrielle Christina!

  • I loved the part when you said, “give yourself permission to be both!” This is something I have been contemplating a lot. People always think you have to be sensitive OR strong, shy OR outgoing. I have come to realize that by embracing my “both-ness” is what brings me peace! Keep hustling and chasing your dreams! I believe in you!

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