Updated: Feb 27, 2018
Originally published on August 9, 2015 at LivingLaughingLovingToday.blogspot.com.
Growing up, I often struggled with trying to fit in. I felt as though I was always under the microscope by someone who was watching my every move to make sure that what I was doing was "adequate" or beneficial to them. In elementary school, I was always teased for being smart and being in the Gifted and Talented (GT) program-- so when I got to high school I decided against taking a full international baccalaureate (IB) schedule in an effort to fit in with the "regular" students. I tried a cigarette in middle school after swearing I'd NEVER touch one just because I wanted to come across as "cool" to one of the popular girls. I gave up my hobby of playing the flute in the band because I didn't want to be considered a "band nerd", and I instead joined track...although I hated running.
This eventually made its way into my adult years. I couldn't possibly live knowing that there was someone who was displeased with me or who didn't approve of the things that I did, so before every decision I thought about everyone else and what they'd think: I attended graduate school to obtain my MBA before I was ready or had even the slightest idea where I wanted to take my career, because I wanted to please my family members who felt I needed to get another degree to succeed in life. I've gotten myself into debt purchasing material things just trying to impress people who I dated, or simply just trying to keep up with those around me who could actually afford those things. I've made poor career choices just for the money, as opposed to doing so because it was something I was passionate about.
But eventually, trying to live for others becomes exhausting. We reach a breaking point where we can no longer juggle our wants, our needs, and the opinions and comments of others at one time. Eventually, something has to give. For me, that breaking point came when a friend ignorantly accused me of "trying to be" a different race, simply because I had chosen to learn a new language and try new cultural recipes. It was that moment that the questions dawned on me: Why did I need to apologize for something that made me happy? Why did it matter so much to everyone else what I did with my time, and with my life? Furthermore, why did it matter so much to me what everyone else thought about what I was doing with my time, and with my life? So I stopped. I vowed to myself that no longer would I let someone else live my life. I vowed that the only person responsible for living my life was ME, and that from that moment on, all my decisions and choices would be made by no one but ME.
So now, I travel whenever I feel the urge, whether it be to the same place that I've visited a million times, or somewhere new. I am shameless about the fact that I choose to spend time learning about other cultures, customs and languages. I'm not afraid to go places alone and meet new people. I am not afraid to say no. Likewise, I'm not afraid to say yes. I'm the only one who influences the decisions I make about my future.
Far too often in life we spend time trying to live to the expectations of others. We make decisions based on what we feel would be socially acceptable to our inner circles and peers, so much that we forget to focus on the most important thing-- ourselves. It becomes a habit and eventually we get lost within ourselves, not knowing who we really are or who we want to be. So what can we do? Well, we can choose to continue spiraling down into a life of living for other people, or we can wake up and start living for us. The moment we learn to listen to GOD as opposed to everyone else, life instantly becomes stress-free, drama-free, and doubt-free.
That being said, I'm choosing to take everything that life throws my way and make the best out of it, because I know that for every situation, good and bad, there's something positive that comes from it. People around me may still talk, judge, and scrutinize, but I choose to use it as fuel-- fuel to continue growing mentally, spiritually, and culturally. I've chosen to live my life unapologetically. I've chosen to LIVE.
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