I was one of those kids who hated to be yelled at and punishment was not my friend. I wanted to make the adults in my life happy and people-pleased to a fault. As I grew older, I was no longer at risk of getting into trouble, yet the self-sacrificing behavior continued. I realized it wasn't trouble that I had been avoiding all of those years, but disappointing others. In trying to live according to their expectations, I was holding myself back and failing to live up to the expectations I had for myself.
People tell me to settle down, have children, lower my guard, and relax my boundaries. They rationalize these directives using fear and guilt, but what they are really saying is, "Do what I did," or "Stop living your life in a way that I lacked the confidence to even consider." Instead of internalizing their fears and regrets, I've accepted that my life is not conventional because my heart's desires are not conventional. Instead of trying to fit into the notion of what others believe or want, I've learned to trust my instincts, live fully, and not apologize for it. Working through my fear of disappointing others and ultimately, losing their support has taught me two life-altering, freeing lessons:
- it is much more detrimental to live a life that I find disappointing and
- I will always have the support I need because those who honestly love me will always remain.