One of the greatest tragedies in life is living someone else’s story to make someone else happy. Or to avoid someone else’s criticism. Or to avoid failing miserably at the one thing that might have made you happy.
I’m not here to offer you the secret to life, prosperity, or fulfillment. But if you are open to input, I want to tell you one quick thing:
Your time here on earth is too precious to spend it focused on making other people happy at the expense of your own happiness.
Now, there’s a wrong way to respond to this. Some people hear this message and act like they have permission to be selfish and rude. That’s not what this is about. Giving legitimacy to your talents and desires doesn’t mean you should say no to everyone else’s wishes all the time. This isn’t a get-out-of-obligations-free card.
Obligations will still exist. We’re not coddling billionaire babies here. You still should work and produce in order to eat. You should still own the responsibility to pay for whatever you consume. You should never mooch off of other people or let others carry your weight in addition to their own.
But you don’t have to become a doctor because you come from three generations of doctors. You don’t have to be an accountant because your dad says it’s a safe career choice. You don’t have to marry a pastor because you were raised to believe it is your highest calling. You don’t have to give up your dream because your family insists that any stable income trumps pursuing your dream.
Sometimes treating your dreams with respect looks like not applying for the lame and boring job. Sometimes it looks like taking the lame and boring job, but working after hours to hone your talents into skills in other areas. Sometimes it looks like taking an intern level position in your field of interest and working your way up for 5-10 years. Sometimes it looks like backpacking across Australia instead of taking summer classes to get ahead on your degree.
Sometimes it looks like admitting you’re in a dead end job and looking at your options. Sometimes it means admitting you created a business that makes no sense for who you really are as a person. Sometimes it means acknowledging that you haven’t stepped up as a parent or provider and doubling your efforts to be the very best you can be.
Legitimacy is the foundation of life. It means it’s okay to be you. It means no one else has the right to decide what is best for you. It means making difficult decisions and pushing through discomfort in order to master your interests. It means not accepting Pathetic Failure as a pet name.
You are worth your own best effort. Give you everything you’ve got. Sometimes the best path forward is scary. You could fail. You could look stupid. You could look unprofessional. You could seem irrational. You could feel alone. It’s not required, but it is a risk.
A reward is the result of accepting a risk and pushing through it to the other side.