When Your Family Doesn't Support Your Dreams
What do you feel is the appropriate reaction when your loved ones don't support what you'd like to do with your life? I would confidently say: I love you, but this isn't about you. This is about what's best for me, and only I can know that answer. If you believe I don't know what's best for me, you're wrong. You're thinking about what you would do if you were me. But you're not me. So, I love you, but if you're not coming with me on this journey, then please move out of my way. I'm turning into the best version of my authentic self possible, and I need supporters with me, not downers and haters. So are you with me or against me? *drops mic*
Let me start off by saying that I personally feel like I'm the Queen of Familial Disappointment. The family member that I'm always trying to impress is also the person who I oppose most often. I see this as a common thread throughout the lives of my friends- they care about their family's opinion more than anything, but they're also tired of trying to be the people that their families wish them to be. Do you see how problematic this is to our happiness? I've noticed that the most common way family members demonstrate their lack of support is through pressuring, manipulation, and most of all- giving unwanted advice that we should stop pursuing our dream. Though these acts aren't necessarily dubious, they can certainly influence us away from the goals of our authentic self.
My dad wanted me to attend his favorite Florida university, but I wouldn't consider it for a second. Didn't even apply there. He wanted me to get a business degree and work in a high-paying, office environment. Then, once I got enough corporate experience, he thought it would be great if I started working at his business, just in time for his retirement. Of course, you can guess where this story goes. I tried to get a degree in absolutely everything besides business- broadcast journalism, interior design, and finally, cultural anthropology. I studied anthropology because I completely loved it and felt passionately about it. I did it for me. Since graduating, I've taken on a multitude of interesting jobs and heard all of my dad's advice, but I usually choose to listen to my personal intuition instead. Brazenly following my heart has led me to where I am today, and I've been more consistently happy this year than I've ever been in my whole life. Without a doubt, I can say that listening to my own intuition instead of other people's opinions has been the wisest decision.
Now, this is not to say that your family members aren't wise and knowledgeable. My dad has made many great decisions in his life and has built a business that I truly admire, but there's one important fact missing: he is not me, and I don't want to be him. I want you to consider this simple question for a second:
Would you love to have the life of your parents? Or sister, grandpa, uncle, etc.
If your answer is "yes," then you probably should listen to their advice. They know exactly how they got to where they're at, and they'll surely be happy to tell you all of their stories about how to live the same lifestyle. But if your answer is "no," then please stop following their advice! Your parents aren't experts about any life other than the one they chose to live.
For example, before getting engaged, would you ask someone who has cheated and been divorced four times already how to make a marriage last forever? Or if you wanted to create your own tech start-up company, would you get your business advice from someone who's worked only in nursing for thirty-five years? No, of course not! These people don't have experience in your realm of interest. So why would you follow everything your parents say if you want to live a life that's very different from the one they have?!
It's tough love time, because I don't want anyone influencing you to live their dream.Own your life. Stand up for yourself and what you want. Show your family love and respect, but you must show yourself love and respect too. If what you want out of life is different from what your family or friends want, then giving in to them and living their version of happiness is a crime against the soul.
Here are my five basic tips for moments that your family tries to steer you away from your dreams:
1. When people are giving unsolicited advice on what you should be doing with your life, just listen with respect and kindness.
2. Contemplate if they have true expertise in the area of your dreams. If so, consider taking their advice. Even if it's not what you want to hear, is what they're saying valid? Listen to what your intuition is saying in response, and go towards that.
3. If they don't have expertise in the area of your goals, contemplate if the advice that they're giving is still useful or relevant. If so, take it. If not, just say, "I appreciate hearing your thoughts," and move on.
4. Do what's best for you, and live your own life! Be gutsy! We're getting too old to follow what our family says without a second thought about if it's really best for what we want. Going against what your loved ones think takes crazy courage, but it will be so worth it!
5. Even if you're not being emotionally supported by your family at the beginning stages of going against them, I've found that they usually come around. Once your loved ones see how happy and passionate you are about your choices, they'll understand it was the right decision for you to make. So forget about their support at the beginning, and be your own shining light. Remind yourself everyday what a brave, kick butt woman you are for following your heart!
So have you ever felt unsupported by your friends or family? What did you do in response to their backlash? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
I hope you have a beautiful, brave day,