Friday, April 15, 2016

The Path Less Traveled - Ignoring Social Pressures

Societal expectations. Ugh. They can be so heavy, right?  Who else grew up being told you had to graduate, go to college, get married, buy a big house, a nice car, have kids, be successful, be rich, retire, play golf, die...? Yep.  I know the spiel well.  My mom was a master at repetition.  Growing up I wanted to be an actress.  Nothing else.  I wanted to act.  It was most definitely my childhood dream all the way through college.  My mother definitely did not approve of that.  At all.  Her dream for me was to become a successful lawyer or doctor.  Those were the only two valid choices.  Period.  I graduated high school without a clue as to what I wanted to do because I'd never thought about anything else but acting. I suddenly discovered teaching when I was promoted to be an on the job trainer at Busch Gardens and realized I actually had a knack for teaching others.  Years later, I stood in front of a classroom and knew that teaching was my life long calling.  After all... they do say that teachers are just failed actors, right? Haha! Definitely true for me.

However, teaching was "failure," in my parents' mind.  After all, it wasn't law or medicine.  So, what did the 24 year old me do? I took the LSAT and enrolled in law school.  3 years later, I graduated with a law degree.  My parents beamed with pride.  They're little girl did it! She was a lawyer and now they could brag to everyone they knew about it. Yes!!!  Except, that dream of theirs was short lived because I hated it so much that a mere year after graduation, I was back in the classroom and I've been in it since.  Suddenly my mom's new line became, "My daughter is a lawyer, but she's currently teaching."  I had to go through several years of, "So, when are you going to return to law?  Why are you teaching? You could be making so much more money!"  Eventually, however, the nagging died down completely.  I don't hear it at all anymore.  They gave up.  I stood my ground and even though it took years of constant nagging, my calling won out.  I just had to be patient and avoid succumbing to the pressure.

As for the big house, luxury car, being rich part? Yep.  Didn't do that either.  Our house is probably the smallest on the street.  My car? A Ford.  Rich? In comparison to the rest of the world? Yes.  By American standards? Middle class at best.
So, what is this post all about?  It's about following our path and not derailing from our calling because of what society expects from us.  God instilled certain gifts in us and we are called to fulfill them.  We will not feel at peace until we do.  If we follow others' dreams for us, then we risk living in inner chaos for the rest of our lives, never being truly happy.

Today, I may not have the life my parents dreamed for me.  But, I do have the life and state of mind they hoped for me.  Happiness.  Contentment.  Love.  Joy.  I may not live in a big house or drive a Benz.  But, I have a life filled with good people, a job I love, free time to do the things I enjoy, and a family with whom I fall in love with more and more every single day.  That, my dear readers, is my definition of success.

What's your dream?  Live it.  Love it.  Enjoy it.  For if it's your God given calling, then things will always fall into place and you will always be filled with peace of mind.  Society does not know what's best for you.  But, God does.  That's why He blessed you with certain gifts and skills.  So, listen to that still small voice telling you what you should be doing and ignore those who think they know what's best for you.