It’s not easy to detach yourself from all of the prescribed “norms” that are thrown your way from birth. It starts off with your family as a kid, then your friends, your teachers, your coworkers and the media. I believe knowing yourself outside of all this outside noise is absolutely critical to your happiness and that it can change the way you see and experience life.
Sometimes, these prescribed norms come from people close to you and it’s not easy to digest the messages objectively unfortunately.
I was told to be safe. Medical, law and engineering schools were the institutions I was supposed to attend coming out of high school. From a young age, my parents preached a safe career path that would guarantee myself a safe financial situation than the one they grew up in. I won’t be safe. I decided to go the entrepreneur route. According to multiple sources, more than 95% of startups fail. I bet that failing rate is down to 0% if you’re willing to do anything (late nights, stress, mental fatigue, etc.) and work excessively hard to fill your venture’s purpose. I read a quote recently that said: “There’s no reward in life without risk”. I’m willing to take the risk.
I was told to be realistic. Recently, I had a conversation where I was explaining my views on life, describing a life where I would solely give importance to its positive aspects and where I would be grateful for every single gesture made towards me and others – regardless of their magnitude. I got the following response: “This is utopia”. I won’t be realistic. I believe you have sole control of your happiness by the way you decide to see and react to aspects of your life. Happiness comes from the inside and shouldn’t be a product of outside forces. Do and focus on the things you love.
I was told there was no hope. A few months ago, I took vacation from work and went back to my mother land. I spent the bulk of my 7-day stay reading about history and riding around poor residential neighbourhoods discussing the reality and the mindset of its habitant. A conversation I had with my aunt struck a cord. She’s been a first-grade teacher for 6-7 years now and I was curious to know how it was to teach these kids. She said: “I don’t enjoy it”. Ignorant as I was, I asked: “Why don’t you do what you like and achieve the things you’re passionate about?”. She replied: “For what? There’s no point to hope. Nothing ever happens anyways”. My heart sunk to my stomache. What saddened me the most is the fact she doesn’t realize the influential power she has over the kids she teaches. They pick up on this negative energy, perpetuating the cycle of hopelessness. There is hope. I don’t have the solution to this huge developing country issue right now but it’ll come with time and I won’t let it go.
This life has taught me to get out of this box that prescribes a direction to it. Knowing your inner self and applying your strengths to make things happen around you will lead to a fulfilling existence.
Turn the box on its head.