Thank you so much for the wonderful response to my post on positivity a couple of weeks ago (a follow up post for which will be up soon!) - I loved each and every comment (whether online or in person), and it has definitely given me a little more courage to open up around here a bit more.
I'm always fascinated by the ebb and flow of life, how things can be so intensely on your mind for a few weeks, then settle back down in the depths of your mind and lie dormant for a while, as other things come to the forefront. And what is so great about having a creative outlet, is that you can just follow those waves and write about mull over whatever it is that is currently constant in your thoughts.
Although I consider my life to be an extremely fortunate one by any standard, at the end of the day, it's all relative (for better or for worse). Like everyone else, it's been full of ups and downs, but my most difficult experience so far was not exactly a "down" moment. I consider my lowest moments to be those times that I felt truly negative and could not dig myself out of the hole I put myself in, but that wasn't the most difficult.
The hardest thing in my nearly 28 years of life, was when I had to forge a path for myself which the people I loved most in the world could not support.
Now, I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty details for various reasons, including the fact that it's pretty personal (although not one I'm ashamed to share), but also because the point(s) I want to make are not necessarily specific to my own personal experience or situation. It's simply about those moments in life when you have to go against the grain - whether the "grain" is society, peer pressure, parental expectations or cultural traditions.
I hesitate to format this into some kind of advise column, because I really have no words of wisdom to share aside from what I've learnt along the way. And it's different for everyone, so I hope that no one takes my word for gospel, but it's just something that I think about often and felt that I wanted to share.
It is the hardest, most heart-breaking thing, to feel like you are letting loved ones and those who care about you down, by going against their expectations or ideals. No doubt we've all had times when we've caved in and let others dictate our next moves for us, or gone against them and regretted it, because they ended up being right all along. And needless to say, this is a completely different ball game from when you are a teenager, to when you are a full grown adult who has the right to make all their own decisions.
Through the times that I felt close to giving up what I truly believed in in order to appease others, I told myself this one simple thing - you are responsible for your own actions. If I let others decide what is best for me and I give in to that despite feeling otherwise, I have no one but myself to blame if it ends up being the wrong choice. I can't then say, "but it's their fault, because they made me do it." - because they didn't, actually. I let it happen. On the other hand, if my own choice also ended up being the wrong one in the end, I would also only have myself to blame. But at least I would have the mistake on my own terms.
This is the one thing that I kept telling myself as I struggled to keep ahold of what I knew was the best path for me. And the faith that one day, things would take its natural course and time would heal the heartache that comes from having to turn your back on the most important people.
As I said, this comes up in all shapes and sizes, in so many guises, in everyday situations and major crossroads. Do you sacrifice your own idea of a dream wedding for your parents' ideas? Do you worry about having to find a partner because society says that's the norm? Do you drink alcohol even though you don't like it, because you're worried of other people's opinions if you don't? Do you have ambitions that don't include going to university, but feel you should anyway because you're expected to? Are you in a relationship that is discouraged by family and friends even though you're happy in it? Do you have a reliable 9-5 job and are dreaming of changing direction, but feel you'd be judged for it?
So many things, all the time. And whilst many of them probably have perfectly justifiable pros and cons, and those who love you mean well and simply want the best for you, I still believe that this is the one thing to remember. You are responsible for your own actions, and therefore your own, unique happiness.