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There is no prison more debilitating than sacrificing
our Selves to live up to someone else’s expectations of what we should be.
Many of have experienced that moment when someone sees us differently than we see ourselves. After sharing some hope, a vision, a dream for the future, the person on the only end, usually a friend, relative or another loved one, looks you square in the eyes and proceeds to tell you that you canNOT do it.
Others have had the opposite, experience. Your friends and family tell you that they see you destined for great things. They tell you all about the success you can (and will) achieve. Then they tell you exactly how to go about it. The issue isn’t that you don’t believe you can do any of it. The issue is that you DON’T WANT to.
There is no prison more debilitating than sacrificing our Selves to live up to someone else’s expectations of what we should be.
When I was five years old, I made the stunning proclamation that I wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, a princess, an actress and a fish! I swim often (and quite LIKE a fish), but in all my years, I have never been able to achieve fishdom. The thing is — no one expected me to. No one tried turning me into a fish. They didn’t even try turning me into a swimmer – I did that on my own. And that fascinates me. It was preposterous to think I could be a fish, but at five my healthy, vibrant, highly-active imagination took the words “you can be anything you put your mind to” a little literally.
See, the interesting this is, as incredulous as it was for me to be a fish, it was equally as incredulous to think I would be a doctor or a lawyer. If you know, you know I’ve surpassed my dream of being a princess and have achieved empress status, I did that one on my own, too.
More often than not, dreams are derailed and deferred, not because someone said you can’t but said you should. Someone told you exactly what you ought to be and who you ought to be and with whom you ought to be doing it. Someone told you that the family honor rested on your shoulders, hinged on your ability to stifle your “selfish” dreams and fulfill an obligation to the “common good.”
You are expected to be the “first” something — the first one to go to college, go to graduate school, become a doctor, a lawyer, an executive. You’re expected to be the “next” something, another in a long line of titles, figures and pillars of prestige – the heir, the mogul, El General.
Seriously, so many of us have lived, are living or will soon encounter the pull toward living tiny, unassuming, and unfulfilled existences on account of what other people tell you that you are.
The only answer to living a full, happy, abundant life of joy is to know exactly what you are…not!
The first thing is to understand who you are and Whose you are. Deep down inside there is a little voice — an inkling, a nudge — that keeps pressing you to venture in a different direction. You thought this life would work for you, but so far – nada!
You thought with all the money, cars, clothes, fancy friends, beautiful spouse and kids that look like baby models you would be floating on air. But instead, it feels more like you flopped on asphalt. Sure, you’ve always wanted to go to Costa Rica and do missions work, but it’s too late for that now, right? You’ve got kids, a spouse…that’s insane.
Maybe you love extreme sports, the great outdoors and nature tracking. Perhaps, you’d love to start your own company offering adventure tours to other enthusiasts, but you can never find the time since you’re managing the local bait and tackle shop, or doing retail sales at the sporting goods store in the mall. If only you had the money, you could find the time. But you spend all your time trying to make enough money. Something’s gotta give…and someone’s gotta go…you!
It’s like Bishop TD Jakes said recently, “You either have stuff and no peace, or peace and no stuff. It’s usually one or the other.” Most of us with stuff are searching for peace, while those of us with peace are trying to figure out how to sustain it while making enough money to sustain ourselves. How do we find ourselves this way?
Many of us are unfulfilled because we feel like we’re cheating someone out of their happiness by not achieving the success they have in mind for us. Furthermore, we feel cheated by life because what we want for ourselves seems unrealistic, out of touch and out of reach.
Well, I’m here to tell you. Screw everyone else! Listen to your gut, listen to your heart, listen to your Intuition. Your Intuition is a God-given compass to help you discover when you’re going the right way. Your Instinct is the GPS that tells you which route to take.
When you’re GPS is constantly rerouting – nudging you day in and day out to do something else; try something else; BE something else…it’s time to consider who you are and who you are not! You see, what I’ve learned from my own GPS redirecting experiences is this: Most people want it to work for you, even though it didn’t work for them.
When I finally decided to make a U-turn, turn back toward my hopes and dreams for myself and disregard the naysayings of those around me, do you know what I discovered? The people who loved me so much and meant so well for me, were miserable themselves. They wanted me to have better, to do more and be more. They wanted me to experience life in ways they never had. And they wanted to be part of it. See, if I achieved then we achieved. And if we achieved, they had no need to live vicariously through me, the family statutes and conditions said that they got to experience it all alongside me.
Sometimes what people want for you is more about them than you. But remember who you ARE and Whose you are. Remember that you are wonderfully and fearfully made; uniquely crafted in all yours ways, purposefully designed to dance to the beat of your own drum.
When people look at you like your crazy, jump for joy. If people aren’t talking about you, you aren’t living your life! Someone will always have something to say – and the more innovative, outlandish and provocative your choices, the more they’ll have to say. But know that when you live life loud, when you follow your own drum, when you listen to that still small voice on the inside at all times, doors will open…the Universe will come to your aid and people will take notice.
Don’t misunderstand me. Following your heart and walking into your destiny isn’t all peaches and creme. Sometimes, things happens. Sometimes you fall off the horse or stray off-course. Sometimes you learn that people you thought were for you were really for themselves. Sometimes you have to excuse people from your journey – and it hurts like hell. In those times, you often have to stop, rethink, regroup, reboot and re-start. And sometimes — when the really bad thing happens, when the unthinkable, inexplicable, unforgettable thing occurs – you just give up. But I want to urge you, DON’T SIT DOWN. STAND UP!
I know it’s hard. Believe me, I know. I’m the one with the ex-husband who was cheating while we were pregnant with our second miracle baby…we only have one child. I’m the one who was unemployed and underemployed for more than a half-decade, from the time I said “I do.” I was the sole provider; uplifted and encouraged even when I didn’t want to get out the bed. I’m the one who lived in other people’s homes — with my child — because I couldn’t afford a place of my own. I know what it is to live through the hardship. I know what it is to be downtrodden and beaten. I know what it is to be used, abused, and taken for granted. I know what it is to feel lost, alone, out of steam and out of luck.
I was knocked down, but I never sat down. I never willingly gave up. I rested, I got rejuvenated and I refused to believe I belonged at the bottom (or would stay there). Others told me what I needed to do to get my life on-track — and I started to listen — until I saw it wasn’t working for them. Instead, I stopped and listened to that still, small voice inside me. I considered my choices and opted to blaze a new trail.
There have been hardships at every turn on this new path, but I know it’s where I’m meant to be and as long as I stand they always work out. My Instinct and Intuition have NEVER steered me wrong. Even when things looked bleakest — and I cried my eyes out feeling crazy for still moving forward, in the end — my life has ALWAYS been the better for it.
But how do you know when you’ve mastered it? When you talk to children! When a five year old comes up to you and tells you that she wants to be a fish, do you tell her anything is possible or do you explain that (until genetic splicing becomes a real thing) she won’t be able to be a fish anytime soon (and that you still don’t recommend it even if splicing is an option), but that she can be anything else? Do you tell her to march to the beat of her own drummer and love the skin she’s in? Do you tell her that she’s not only pretty, she’s very smart and whatever it is that she’s after in life can be hers if she always remembers to go within and listen?
Do you tell her who she is or do you let her tell you? It’s easier to follow their lead when you know who you are…not.