Growing up, you are told what you can do, what you can't do and what you absolutely must not think of doing. You are asked to sleep by 7 pm, to eat your veggies and to always receive guests with a smile.
You are taught that butter is applied to bread, that Sundays are dedicated to church and that Christmas comes with gifts (if you've been good all year ‘round).
Then, you grow up and you realize that there's a lot with which you don't agree — that you don't want to be a lawyer and would rather be a high-end carpenter. That you would rather have jam instead of peanut butter, eat with your hands instead of a fork and wear dreadlocks instead of neatly-kempt hair.
What now? What do you do when all of your friends are chasing careers, but you just want to be a housewife at age 24? When your friends migrate to the big cities for the big bucks while you want to move to a little-known town in the depths of the country?
When people tell you your high-profile accounting job is the object of their jealousy, yet you want to quit and pursue your passion for fashion? What now? What then? What do you do?
Here's what you need to remember:
1. Follow your heart, but remember to take your brain with you.
This saying is true. Whatever it is you wish to become, to chase, to try, be careful. Plan, strategize, communicate, get funding — do what it is you have to do.
2. People have opinions, ideas and suggestions for what your perfect life should include.
They are quick to stand by the pavement, chip in and talk when it's someone else's lawn. Your relatives have opinions — so does the old stranger you just met on the streets.
Take every piece of advice with caution. Find what's useful and dismiss what's not. But ultimately, put to use what works for you.
3. No risk taken is no mission achieved.
Following the crowd offers its benefits because the road has been tried and tested before; your chances of failing are minimal, but so are your chances to succeed.
Take the road less traveled, swim against the current, color outside of the lines, take a jump and build your wings as you fly along. Things will be okay. The more naysayers you have, the more chances you will have to make an impact. Even if nothing works out, at least you tried, and now you know.
4. There's only one of you in the world.
No one can tell a story as well as you do. And even if someone can, no one can tell your story. And even if they do, no one can use your voice.
And even if they do, no one can use your intonation.
Use your talents, gifts and skills. Sing, dance, create, build, inspire, teach — do what was given to you to do. There's only one of you in the world and no one can tell a story like you do.
5. People will learn from you.
Even those who are against every move you make will learn. They may learn what to do, what not to do, how to do it, where to start, what to risks to take, how to deal with people, how to follow dreams, how to have faith... whatever it is, they will learn.
6. If not you, then whom?
If Oprah didn't question, if Dr. Phil didn't advise, if John Lennon didn't sing, if Joel Osteen didn't preach, if Mark Harmon didn't act, who would?
Who would have played their roles exactly the way they did? Recognize what you have and don't rob the world of seeing you for who you are.
7. Find people who get you and who understand you, people who are on board with who you are and what you're about.
Find the people who realize that your strengths and flaws are what make you unique.
Intentionally select these people, because even your closest relatives could be your biggest hindrances. Find people who inspire you, who make you want to be a better person, who challenge you, who excite you, who ignite a fire in you and who egg you on when the enthusiasm burns too low.
Look for these people, and when you find them, don't let them go.
8. Your life is your own and your journey is your own.
Your dreams are your own and so are your struggles. Live your life. Be true to yourself. Also remember that you're the only one who knows how miserable you are when you go to bed at night.
Follow your intuition — it's almost always right. Believe that ultimately, everything will all work out.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It