Are you going through life afraid to live, afraid to admit your passion and pursue your purpose because others have bullied you into living in accordance with their beliefs?
Do you know who you are? Think for yourself? Set your own rules?
If these questions are a cause of panic and unease it’s because, thus far in your life, you’ve been blindly guided in the wrong direction, or no direction at all.
The good news is, you’re not stuck here. You always have options. Either change nothing – do what’s easy now but hard later, or change everything – do what’s hard now but will pay future dividends of achievement and satisfaction.
All things worth achieving require sacrifice and the courage to stand in the face of our fears. It’s not an easy task, but I’m here to tell you that if it’s easy, it’s rarely worth doing.
Ask yourself ‘Who do I look up to/ admire/ aspire to be like?’
Those you idolize most aren’t those who’ve succumbed to the pressures of society. They’re those who’ve pursued fields they’re passionate about irrespective of what others said they couldn’t do, or ought to do to be ‘good’. They’re the people who’ve taken the risk of standing apart from the crowd and have paid more attention to their inner voice, than the never-ending white noise around them. Was it easy? Did they possess powers the rest of us are lacking?
Ask Beyonce, Tupac, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and the even the more historically infamous for their breaking of social convention – Galileo Galilei who was killed for saying the earth is round; Abraham Lincoln who was assassinated after his abolition of slavery, Margaret Cavendish the feminist who was deemed “mad, conceited and ridiculous”. The list can go on for days, but their answers will be the same. Their success and pursuit of freedom was built upon the foundations of courage, rebellion and hard work. Not fear. Not Conformity.
Before taking the necessary measure of implementing the Thirteen Amendment outlawing slavery and involuntary servitude, Lincoln spent years hoping that the ideological sacrifices he and others made in the name of ‘loyalty’ would be appreciated and rewarded with a willingness to let go of out-dated, narrow minded beliefs. He said ‘It is hardly fair to assume, that I have no interest in a thing [slavery] which continually exercises the power of making me miserable. You ought rather to appreciate how much the great body of the Northern people do crucify their feelings, in order to maintain their loyalty to the Constitution and the Union.”
When the response he sought wasn’t offered, Lincoln didn’t give up on the pursuit of freedom for all. He took measures in his own hands, surrounded himself with like-minded individuals and did what others were too afraid to do. The price he paid was his life.
Luckily, the price we must pay is rarely that extreme, but we must pay the price of accepting public denouncement from those most threatened by our fight for a life of freedom. In fact, we must wear the badge of denouncement with pride and an unfaltering conviction of who we are and what we represent.
When the Western world turned Beyonce’s performance at the second inauguration of President Obama into a disreputable media frenzy on account of her lip syncing, she didn’t shy away or succumb to the pressures of those who wanted to witness her falter or feel unworthy. She publicly confirmed the allegations, and ended by courageously saying “I’m very proud of my performance.” She retained control and forbade others to discredit her achievements or have her believe she’s any less worthy of being ‘great’.
In our battles for a life of freedom and acceptance with the absence of condemnation we must first acknowledge and welcome the opposition of those with different beliefs, or no beliefs but a blind need for conformity.
We must Live and Let Live without the expectation that this favor will be returned, because freedom is not given, it’s taken.
Whatever you do in life, ask yourself ‘am I doing this for the fulfillment of my dreams, or for the approval of those who claim to know better?’ There will always be an endless supply of people who think they have all the right answers, or people who can’t achieve and will therefore tell you You can’t achieve. But when it’s all boiled down, this is what we find:
1. Those who resist change are those whose fear of the unknown inhibits advancement, and in the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt ‘the only thing to fear is fear itself’.
2. Those with no beliefs of their own are condemned to the beliefs of others. And
3. The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. For even dead fish can go with the flow. – Jim Hightower
Don’t play dead in life. Swim against the current. In the wise words of Dr. Seuss ‘Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.’