Priorities can be troublesome, divisive things. The problem with priorities is that everyone thinks that they know best what everyone else’s priorities should be, and when people don’t live up to that expectation it causes hurt, frustration, and sometimes ultimately ruined relationships.
We all have priorities, whether we are consciously aware of them or not. They are founded in childhood and then evolve over a lifetime of experiences. Often they are so entrenched that we don’t really have all that much choice in the matter, although admittedly it is possible to consciously decide to attempt to change a priority.
Cambridge Dictionaries Online defines a ‘priority’ as:
“Something that is very important and must be dealt with before other things”
To ‘prioritize’ is given to mean:
“To decide which of a group of things are the most important so that you can deal with them first”
In the online Jedi community words such as priority and prioritize get thrown around often – there is a sense that by putting in hard work and dedication one can achieve a sort of spiritual enlightenment through Jediism, and to some people naturally this is seen as a higher goal – something to be prioritized. It isn’t unusual for people to take time out from TOTJO for personal reasons and then to post a journal entry apologising for their absence in a very guilty-sounding tone, as though they feel that they will be rebuked for having let something else in their life take priority over their studies.
This kind of guilt and fear regarding priorities is obviously not limited to involvement with online churches – many people experience it often, across various walks of life. For instance, family is often considered to be something that should take the utmost priority. Sometimes we might do something with or for our families at the expense of our happiness, because we make it a priority based on not wishing to be seen to be uncaring towards those who have raised and supported us throughout our lives.
The truth is that no-one has the right to determine another person’s priorities. All we can comment on is what would be our personal priority in that situation, but we have no idea what is actually the right priority for another person unless we can read their minds and see every single experience that has contributed to their personal perception of what is and isn’t important.
When someone decides to do something at the expense of something else, we generally have no right to judge them – and, in turn, this means that when you make a decision, you have the right not to be judged by anyone other than yourself. If you find that your decisions and priorities are based on what you think other people want you to do rather than what YOU want to do, just remember – anyone who truly loves and cares about you would not want you to sacrifice your happiness for their sake.
That’s not to say that we should be entirely selfish and have no regard for the thoughts of others at all – I’d like to drop in one of Senior Knight Akkarin’s personal maxims at this point:
“Do what makes you happy and harm no-one on the way”
I think this is probably a good rule to live by when prioritizing. I’m sure that we would all interpret the word ‘harm’ slightly differently, but when prioritizing you have to be sensible about it – if your priorities are not specifically meant to hurt someone and don’t break any promises or commitments it’s most likely that any harm you might be causing is more of a denting of a selfish Ego (i.e. their fault, not yours), rather than harm that you should genuinely try to avoid.
So, when choosing priorities – try to remember that no-one has the right to judge you. And unless you are causing any genuine, avoidable, and/or intentional harm – don’t let anyone else make you feel as though the things that are important to you don't matter. They do.