I am not willing to be miserable in exchange for security. That’s one of the main reasons I love Portland- it is filled with free thinkers who would rather be broke than to settle for a life of conformity and security in exchange for selling their soul.
The more I observe people and myself, I’m realizing that most of the societally-deemed “successful” people in this world got to where they are now because they try unabatedly to make others around them proud of them…. they so fervently seek to fit in.
I believe it begins with the complex as a child whereby our parents often reaffirm the notion that “good” behavior warrants love and approval and “bad” behavior leads to admonishment and disapproval. Thus, most of us go forward into our adult lives continuing this unhealthy cycle of believing they if we play by the rules and make everyone believe we are making the “smart” decisions, then we will receive love, respect and admiration in return.
On some levels, this is true. However, the thing is, the type of love and respect we receive from this kind of process is conditional. It is based on conditions, and if those conditions aren’t being met, namely you aren’t producing the types of behaviors that others approve of, the other side of the cycle will switch into gear: the side of admonishment.
Sometimes I will look into the eyes of people I know whom I watch recounting their anecdotes of success, while those around them coo in approval, and I see in their eyes that same little child who tugged on their mother or father’s sleeve, begging them to look at the pretty drawing they just made, or the mess they just cleaned up; I see them unconsciously reaching out and asking for approval and love from their peers or their family, as much as or perhaps more so than they did as a child, when they just wanted mommy and daddy to be proud of them.
The recognition of this unconscious process in others helps me to be more compassionate and less disdainful towards individuals who live in this way, but it also makes me sad. It seems like such a wasted life to live according to the desires of others and what others deem as best for your life.
I look again and see the quietly desperate unhappiness and the confused longing for something more reflected in the eyes of those people who do not follow in their own unique footsteps but instead follow in the path of what others tell them is right. I see the fruitless of attempt of these individuals to drown out their dissatisfaction with the attainment of material comforts and possessions.
I know for certain that I do not want to live in this way. I have lived like that in the past: making decisions based on the advice of others or desires of others- seeking their approval and wanting them to be proud of my choices. But now, I am beginning to see things differently and live differently. I am beginning to live unapologetically according to the beat of my own drum.
You see, others may give you what seems to be very sound and logical advice. However, I have found for myself that it is more important to choose the path that you deem as right in your heart, because what others view as “mistakes” could be your greatest and most important teachers.
If we all lived our whole lives trying to avoid “mistakes” and hardships like so many advise us to do, we would miss out on SO many important lessons!
This brings to mind another point I’ve been contemplating: just because something is more difficult doesn’t make it the wrong choice, and just because something is easier, doesn’t make it the right choice either.
Many people advised me not to bring my former boyfriend on my road trip with me to Portland, because they said it would be emotionally much more difficult to part after sharing those significant memories together. Well, you know what- they were right! It was much harder to say goodbye to him after sharing such wonderful and irreplaceable memories together on our journey. But, you know something else- I wouldn’t take back the decision of bringing him along for one minute! Even though it was more difficult emotionally to include him, I feel so blessed to have shared that life-changing experience with someone I care deeply about, and I know for certain that the experience affected him in a very positive, deep and profound way. I am so happy I was able to contribute to him having the opportunity to grow more as an individual and learn more about what the world has to offer.
Furthermore, when you make choices based off of your own volition, there is less regret you are likely to experience because you are less likely to years later wonder, “what if I had followed my heart on that decision? Where would I be today if I did? Would I be a happier or more fulfilled person? Would I have learned more?” You also resent people more whose advise you take when you aren’t pleased with the outcome.
I guess what I’m saying is, generally speaking, fuck what others say and think and do what you feel is best in your heart (with some input from your head to provide balance). This is your life and you are going to have to make and learn from your own fumbles. You are also going to get to bask in the joy of reaping the rewards of making your own positive decisions for yourself.
No matter if the road you are led down by your choices is difficult or very pleasant, your journey will be so much more fulfilling and rich if each moment is experienced while knowing you were brought to that point in time by your own free will, the sweat of your own brow, and that you moulded your life by your own two hands.