The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.
— Paul Valéry, French Poet & Philosopher
What’s tough about this is that sometimes you want to do something for yourself, but the opinions of your onlookers cause you not to. Maybe you’re interested in a school that’s far away, but the person you’re dating wants you to stay close to home. Maybe you’re interested in a simple career, but your parents encourage you to do something more prosperous. Maybe you’re miserable at your job and want to quit, but your spouse is unsure of what the future will hold once you leave.
I had a college professor who tried explaining this “living to please others” idea to me. Before finding his way and becoming a professor, he too was confused about what he wanted to do with his life. He asked many people for advice, and ended up listening to his grandfather.
His grandfather had worked as a general laborer and stonemason, and said that if he had the chance to do it all over again he’d work for the military as an enlistment recruiter. Although I’ve forgotten the details, his grandfather basically convinced him that this would be a good career path to take.
My professor ended up pursuing it, per his grandfather’s recommendation. After spending a few years fulfilling the necessary requirements, though, he eventually realized how being a military recruiter was the last thing that he wanted to be doing. He was living someone else’s dream.
Later, he embraced his own dream of helping young people into adulthood. He became a college professor, and taught classes aimed at introducing students to different career options so they’d have a better understanding of what they wanted in life. His lectures were often based around his own experiences, and included life lessons that students could benefit from — as long as they were willing to listen.
I must not have listened very well, because I made the same mistake. I went into the computer industry because it was what people I knew expected from me. I chose something that I was capable of doing, but didn’t enjoy doing — partly because it was a lucrative career field, but mostly because I wanted other people’s approval.
It can be hard to go against the grain and do what you want, especially when nobody agrees with your dream. I know this because I made a life choice in an attempt to please others, and ended up leading an unhappy life because of that decision. I should have been more interested in making choices to please myself.
Now, it’s entirely possible that you may not take this advice to heart. I understand completely — because I received this advice at an early age, but didn’t process it at the time. I needed to experience it firsthand in order to truly learn it.
That said, I still want to encourage you to be TOTALLY SELFISH when it comes to your life’s choices. You are responsible for your own life, and you should be living your dream — whatever it may be.
If you want to be a surfing instructor, do it.
If you want to teach English to children in Japan, do it.
If you want to run your own business, do it.
If you want to live in Paris, do it.
If you want to design roller-coasters, do it.
If you want to photograph wildlife in Africa, do it.
If you want to be a filmmaker, do it.
If you want to write books, do it.
If you want to be a chef, do it.
If you want to DO ANYTHING, do it — and remember to do it for yourself.
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