“Don’t you find it odd, that when you’re a kid, everyone, all the world, encourages you to follow your dreams. But when you’re older, somehow they act offended if you even try.” —Ethan Hawke
I think we confuse ourselves when we try to fit in. Whether socially or with our families, when we give up parts of ourselves to fit someone else’s ideals of who they think we should be, we lose ourselves. We find it harder to remember who we are, and we feel disconnected from our truths. As we age, the more we give up the parts of ourselves that are begging to be heard — the dreams, truths, relationships, career goals, etc. — we begin to feel contracted, frustrated and agitated.
The more seasoned you become at micromanaging your wants to fit into the collective norms of your friends, family, and surrounding culture, the more disconnected you become with your dreams. Your dreams become convoluted and your truths feel like dirty words.
If we only have this one life, why would we waste it trying to be liked by others? Why disrespect ourselves, why give up who we are to be accepted? Peer pressure can feel suffocating, that I know; it takes resilience and courage to have the stamina to follow your heart. I get that. But my question is, doesn’t it feel stifling to keep yourself tied together, fulfilling images of yourself created by someone else or society?
Maybe you have dreams of travelling, working abroad, having an unconventional career, choosing to homeschool your kids while seeing the world or meeting new people with different perspectives. Perhaps it’s a hobby you’ve been too intimidated to pick up, yet one you think about incessantly. It could be the desire to go back to school in your 40s, 50s, 60s, or whatever your dream is.
Growth and education doesn’t stop in our 20s. If we allow it of ourselves, we can continue to grow, evolve and (hopefully) surprise ourselves for the rest of our lives.
I consistently remind myself that it’s OK to keep following my dreams. I regularly curate thoughts that allow me the freedom to be unorthodox. I work hard to remain true to my heart. I get uncomfortable, scared and worried about what others will think, yet I’m consistently governing myself to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I do it with authenticity, and allow myself to make mistakes. I work hard at being respectful to others and myself. On many occasions I have experienced shaming, judgment and ridicule for following my own path. Yet, what makes me resilient is not acquiescing to what others say, but remaining on course with my true north.
“Your relationships improve drastically and the tension in your mind decreases significantly when you can simply accept people for who they are instead of fixating on how they should change and be more like you.” —Yung Pueblo
It’s a two-way street: allowing others their own paths is just as important as following your own. If you see yourself being critical of someone else’s choices, it may be time to ask yourself, “Why?” Why do you think you get to have an opinion on someone else’s journey? You’re not living their life, you’re not in their heart, you don’t feel their struggles or pains. So why do you get to choose their truths?
I lean into those who follow their dreams. I collect my courage by seeing others follow their dreams and do the things that no one else does. I dream big by looking into the greater world and gaining courage from those I don’t know, but respect tremendously.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to being who you are” Joseph Campbell