I mentioned last week that I had been reading Down to Earth, a Guide to Simple Living by Rhonda Hetzel. I’ve finished it now, and while I’ve come away from the book with lots to think about, one thing has struck me as particularly relevant to me. That is, the lesson of not doing what is expected, but instead following your heart.
Truth be told, I have always struggled with self doubt. Far too often instead of asking myself how I feel about my choices, I find myself worrying what other people will think. I think most people probably struggle with this to some extent, but it’s particularly hard when you choose to do anything that is not “the norm” (Whatever that means! Obviously what may be considered “the done thing” in my world, may be completely different to “the done thing” in your world.) While I don’t pretend my ideas or dreams are totally unique or earth-shatteringly original, I know to others some of my life choices seem a bit… Well, weird.
When Reuben and I decided to leave Sydney we knew with all our hearts it was the right thing to do, yet I found myself questioning this decision and fretting about it, simply because I knew other people thought leaving secure jobs in the city for an unknown future in the country was an odd (or stupid) thing to do. I have experienced the same feelings with making the decision to move in with my mum for a little while. I know the scenario of adults moving back home is not considered ideal, and though I really believe this move is the right thing to do, I’ve struggled with worrying “But what will people think?!”
Of course the reality is, what other people think doesn’t really matter. This is my life. It is my responsibility to make the very most of it. I am the only person who can fully understand how I feel, what I think and what I want. And while I believe it’s very important to take advice on board and learn from the experiences of others, no one else can possibly know what’s best for me better than I do.
It all boils down to this: When I’m old and grey do I want to find myself regretting the fact that I never took the leap, followed my instincts and listened to my heart, because I was busy doing what was expected of me? Or do I want to look back and feel like I lived life to the very fullest, followed my dreams and did what was right for me? The answer is pretty obvious.
At the end of the day, we can’t please everyone. No matter what choices we make, someone somewhere will think they are the wrong ones. So (as long as we aren’t hurting anyone) we might as well go ahead and do what makes us happy! People will judge. People will question. If we do something unexpected there’s a good chance people will worry and gossip and argue. But as Rhonda so perfectly puts it, it is time to “stop living according to the expectations of others and focus on building a life that is unique to you… Be mindful, make your own decisions, work out what’s right for you and don’t feel guilty or undecided if your family or friends aren’t doing it or don’t understand what you do. Imagine your own life, and how you want it to be then work to make that vision a reality. Don’t be put off, don’t listen to the naysayers, go with your heart and do what is right for you.”
It won’t necessarily be easy, but I know that in order to create the life I want, that’s exactly what I have to do. I have to forget about doing what’s expected and instead do what feel right for me and for my little family.
I know I’m not the only one who worries about what other people think. Do you struggle with self doubt too? Or maybe you don’t! In that case, where do you get the strength to swim against the tide? I’d so love to hear your thoughts.