Live the Life You Want, Not the One Others Impose

This story originally appeared on the Gents Cafe Newsletter. You can subscribe here.

This idea seems so obvious when you look at it. Why would we let someone else tell us how to live our lives? It is easy to say you for yourself, but when you look deep within, does that claim hold up? How often have we allowed ourselves to be influenced by the world around us?

Living a life that is true to yourself is much more complex and challenging than it used to be. When growing up, many of us face the pressure of our parents to go to college, get a degree, find a high-paying job in that industry, and finally settle down with that wife, house, 2.5 kids, and a Golden Retriever. 

When we get older, our friends influence us to stay with the group and keep up with their successes. Finally, there is the most commonly overlooked: living our lives trying to emulate the lives of those we admire: actors, musicians, and sports stars. We live our lives based on what the culture of those people dictates is desirable. We’re keeping up with the Joneses. Or, in today’s vernacular, we are trying to live that Instagram-worthy life.

We have such a finite time on this Earth, so why spend it doing something we don’t enjoy? We all have a plan A, which we genuinely want to do because it lights our soul on fire. Writing, singing, playing professional ping-pong, whatever it is. We then abandon that pursuit at some point because we’re told it isn’t practical. Someone else tells us we can’t succeed at it. We listen, and we settle in for plan B. 

Spend your time doing what you love, listen to the voice inside you that keeps whispering there is a better path, and have the courage to walk in that direction – ditch plan B. Avoid the regret of living your life for other people. Your life doesn’t need to make sense to anyone but you. 

Part 1 of this story originally appeared in Issue 84 of the Gents Cafe Newsletter. You can read it here.

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