Very often, I would follow these opinions automatically without even realizing it. Of course, I wanted to be loved and appreciated. I thought that I would receive that love and appreciation by following these instructions. I was subconsciously obsessed about getting other people’s approval that I never took a moment to wonder what is it that “I” want. For many things, I did follow my inner voice. Still, for so many others, I suppressed my wishes and my own perspective or values on important matters for myself to take “the right path for me” as dictated by others. It is incredible to realize that I have constantly put myself in this position without even noticing that it was me that was allowing this pattern to happen.
We are somehow molded by society in uncountable things about what is right and wrong. How to dress, how to behave, how to talk, with whom we should fall in love with, what we need to be happy, what we should achieve in life to be considered successful, or what we shouldn’t even think about achieving cause it’s out of our league, what is our true gender, what we are supposed to do or not to do if we are a girl, what we are supposed to do or not do if we are a boy. The term “society” shows up in our life dressed up as a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, a priest, a neighbor, a friend, a classmate, a boss, a stranger passing by. All these people around us share or impose their opinions on us, and we believe them, we follow what they say. We feel that others know better than us what is best for us. So many times, words of guidance and support are filled with love and care, and that’s how we get tricked and follow these precious advises. But how often the perspective of someone else relevant to our life – despite their love to us – is really aligned with our own perspective?
Growing up, I so often under-estimated what I thought best for myself because I had a strong feeling that others know better. But then recently in my life and after doing a lot of self-digging, I realized that whatever other people are telling me regarding my life is based on themselves. Have you ever heard statements like: “You should not leave your job even if you don’t like it. Doing your own business is so risky, and so many people have failed and lost everything. You have a stable job, and you should stick with it.” or “You cannot dress like that, what will X think if they see you? Do you want to embarrass us?” or “What do you mean you want to divorce cause you don’t love them anymore? Do you have any idea what such a thing would do to our family?” But what they really mean is: “I never dared to even think about trying such a thing myself, so you shouldn’t either. I never dared to follow my heart and have the fulfilling job I always wanted or have my own style and stand out of the pack or be with the one I truly love, despite other’s opinions”. They are projecting their fears and insecurities on us. But your fear is not my fear. You never tried, you never dared, you never heard your own voice, and that has nothing to do with me.
The moment I discovered that other people’s opinions about me had absolutely nothing to do with me liberated me. I was taking these opinions and judgment personally, but now I know that it was not about me all along! This realization brought me a lot of relief for myself but also sadness for them. For a moment, I even felt a strong weight on my back that I was called to lift as being probably one of the only ones in my family actually to be ready to really live my life. But this weight was probably the best burden I would ever want to have, and I never regretted taking my true path.
Looking back on my life and how others around me used to operate their every day, it was clear that they didn’t follow their dreams or opened their wings fully. Most of my surroundings followed the path that was “the right thing to do.” Most of them remained small through their mindset and in their actions despite their potential. Out of fear to disappoint or to not be loved, they wouldn’t even consider imagining what could be their life purpose or what would make them truly happy. Their fear of failure and its consequences were stronger than their wish to follow their dreams. What if they tried something, and they failed? How humiliating would that be, and what would everybody in their surrounding or even the unknown neighbors think of them? They would be such a disappointment and an embarrassment. Nobody would love them or appreciate them.
We are losing from a small to a very big portion of our life, forbidding ourselves to live how we consider best to feel happy. And that is because we worry about how others will perceive our choices. But what we don’t realize is that if the “others” judge us for any reason, it’s only because they didn’t allow themselves the choice of whatever would make them happy out of fear of being rejected from their own “others.” This constant cycle of pursuing love and acceptance while locking our wishes and dreams in a cage out of fear of rejection is the source of deep unhappiness perpetuated from generation to generation.
My wish for all of us is to break this chain of misery and allow ourselves to fly and to fulfill our dreams no matter what others before us or around us did or didn’t do! This is our only opportunity to truly live. We cannot allow other people’s fears dictate us how we should live our life. How did we ever allow that to happen in the first place?
Yes, listen to others if you feel like it. And then you have some choices. You can thank them for sharing their opinion or guidance, and then as long as you agree with them, fantastic, follow that advice. But if you disagree because their voice doesn’t reflect your path or values, move on. By choosing “you” and what “you” think is best for “you” doesn’t mean you are not worthy of love and appreciation or that you won’t receive that love and appreciation.
If these people rather stick to their opinion and threaten their love for you depending on your decision of following what they say, then sadly, I have to say that they might care about themselves more than they care about you. Or they are too blinded because of their own fears that they don’t realize how much they are hurting you by requesting you to follow what they say despite your own beliefs.
If you hesitate what to do with that opinion of theirs, then take a step back and think about their own story and from where their opinion is coming from. Is it really about you, or is it about them? Did those people pursue their dreams? Are they sharing their life with someone(s) they truly love? Do they have a job that fulfills them, and that gives their life a purpose? Do they enjoy their everyday life by being and breathing? Do they take good care of themselves and focus on becoming better every day through actions of self-care? If not, please, move on with your life and follow your choices. You deserve an amazing life by doing exactly what brings you joy.
If we all followed our dreams and passions, can you imagine how this planet would look like? If we would wish for ourselves and others pure happiness and support each other towards that purpose, this place would be magical. We would live and not just exist. So, listen to others if you want, but mostly listen to yourself. You’ve got all the answers and guidance you need already within you!
Published in Thrive Global on September 27, 2020.