Finding direction in life is so challenging.
It’s hard enough to understand what YOU want as a person, without the influences and pressures of what others think you should want.
I’ve learned this first-hand as a young college student still finding my path.
Having people concerned about whether or not your dreams are attainable can really impact your sense of self, your perceived worthiness and overall career goals.
It can make you doubt and question yourself.
Even if it’s well-meaning. Even if they love or care for you and are trying to help.
At the end of the day, you and only you, have to be the one to choose the dreams you chase.
You have to do what you want.
Choose yourself. Believe in yourself.
It isn’t selfish to make decisions for yourself.
It’s smart and brave.
You only get one life, and you want to live it the way you feel empowered to, without resentment or regret.
And it’s not always easy, trust me.
It really is an art.
You can’t let the opinions of others tear you down.
Hearing doubt from a family member, coach or friend can really hurt and damage our mental ability to believe in ourselves and persist. It’s human nature.
I have experienced all of this firsthand, and I know I am not alone.
Coaches have told me I was too slow for the soccer team or just not what they were looking for. Family members or friends have questioned my capabilities and decisions.
It isn’t easy.
We all have times in our lives when people doubt us and make us feel insecure or insignificant.
But it’s, unfortunately, a part of life, and one meant to help you evolve.
Receiving doubt or rejection from others can be a learning experience and a motivation to grow.
It’s okay and a personal right to reject the projections and worries people throw at you. But you can’t let them define you or impact your sense of worth.
Rather than trying to be approved of by others, you can always prove your worth to yourself. Nothing is more validating than telling yourself, “I did that,” –despite the opinions and reservations of those around me.
Remind yourself that we all have different priorities when it comes to our goals, and that’s ok.
Sometimes, I can feel like a black sheep because of my personal goals.
I’m an aspiring journalist, a profession that can warrant some criticism for a number of different reasons. Like all creative professions, it can also appear financially risky or illogical to some people. But it doesn’t to me, and that’s all that really matters.
I have different priorities than some of the people around me, and that can be challenging.
Money is important, but not the most important value to me in a job. I am fortunate enough that it doesn’t have to be.
I believe you should love what you do and feel passionate about it.
That’s all I have ever really wanted, and it’s what drives me towards the career and education choices I have made.
I’ve also witnessed people around me make amazing money but constantly talk about all the jobs they wish they could have done. It’s all about choices.
At the end of the day, you have to choose what drives you and what’s important to you. Evaluating your own worth and success should be measured by your own values.
We’re all different and we all make decisions based on varying priorities. None is better or worse than the other.
Remember that if someone tells you your dream or career isn’t one they’d choose–it was never their choice to begin with.
Sometimes, even loved ones will try to influence your decisions out of fear or concern. Try not to take it personally.
I think this is pretty common, and something I had to learn myself.
When loved ones seemingly don’t support your choices, it can immediately feel like a personal attack, but it usually has more to do with their own fears, reservations and concerns.
Taking risks can be very scary for people, and maybe your choices are ones they didn’t feel like they were able to make themselves.
I have experienced this first hand with my own parents. For example, my mom did not want me to go out of state for college, and often (whether intentionally or unintentionally) made me feel very guilty for my aspirations to do so.
When I got into my dream school at the University of Colorado Boulder, she wasn’t as supportive as I had hoped she’d be. I think she took it personally that I wanted to move away and did not understand my reasons or motivations.
Of course, it felt like a scary move for me too, but also one I was really excited about.
But I let the opinions of those in my life impact my choice.
My friends wanted me to stay in-state and did not support my decision to go out of state. Even family members and friends said things like “you do not want to leave your parents here” or “why do you want to go there like what is so special about it.?”
I ended up not going to that school and later regretted the fact that the decision didn’t feel like my own.
Even if the influence was my mom or best friends, people so important to me, it still had to be a decision I ultimately made for myself, so I didn’t live with resentment or regret.
I don’t necessarily regret the choice I did make, because it eventually helped me find my way towards the path of journalism and travel, but I now move forward with more confidence and intention when I receive feedback from others on my choices.
Above all, never let someone talk you out of your dreams.
Following your heart is so important.
Never let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of yours. This may feel harsh, but it’s true. We all have pasts, and reasons we went in one direction vs another.
People bring those biases into the advice they give others, consciously or not.
But we all deserve the opportunity to learn those lessons for ourselves, even if they are tough ones. All lives are unique by design, and so are all dreams.
You have to believe in yourself.
Find the strength to accept or reject the opinions thrown your way, and ultimately move towards what you want in life.
You have one chance to be the person you want to be, and follow the dreams you know are worth chasing, don’t waste it.