I recently had a conversation with a friend in which she was asking how some people make the decision to go against the social norm.
As we are all (painfully) aware, we still tend to live by specific milestone events that are expected to define us and drive our choices. Marriage (the earlier after college, the better). Babies (you need to get on that before your eggs shrivel up and die). Home ownership (if you’re not doing it by 30, what are you doing with your life??). You get the idea…
I, for one, have a ridiculous amount of experience not hitting milestone. Whether by choice, chance, or master plan, most of my life has been a series of unconventional circumstances (back in college at 38, anyone?).
You might think you signed on for a certain life, but the universe has other plans for you.
You may think you got a fastpass for It’s A Small World, but really it’s for Space Mountain.
So I found myself trying to make my friend understand that it’s not easy. For those of us who do tend to take the path less traveled, we do so with an awareness of the stigma, sideways glances, and yes, unexpected encouragement of the world around us.
Through my atypical journey, it’s been easy to experience “grass is greener” syndrome, wishing my life was more like my peers. I’ve wished for love, and babies, and family vacations, and a home that I own. I still hope for them.
But by changing my thinking, I realized that I also have freedom- to travel when I want to, to change jobs, to live simply, to pursue more education. It’s a trade off.
What people don’t realize about those of us defying convention is that we see the looks of confusion, we field the inevitable questions, we experience self-doubt.
But we do it anyway.
Some of us do it because we have to. Our lives didn’t turn out the way we expected, and we’re trying to figure it all out and redefine what we always expected, to the path we find ourselves on.
Others of us fully embrace the different and unexpected. Defying convention has become a life theme.
Whatever the case, I’ve found that the key to managing the looks, and questions, and self-doubt, is tackling them with confidence. Because when you have confidence in your choices, it doesn’t matter what people say about them. It’s your life. And living your life by your rules and your standards in not only important, it’s necessary.
It’s key to survival.
When you choose to take your own road, you probably start out feeling alone. There are still times that I feel like I’m the ONLY ONE who’s “starting over.” Then I look around and realize there are so many people doing their thing.
There’s a whole community of people defying expectations. Living their authentic life. The key, above all else, is doing what’s authentic TO YOU. Don’t worry about what you believe others might think. Chances are, you’re wrong.
I know I’ve received so much support for my latest adventure. There will always be people who don’t understand- they don’t have to. It’s not FOR them. That doesn’t mean they won’t support you. That they don’t want what’s best for you. That they don’t want you to be happy.
So for those who find themselves on an unexpected or nontraditional path- go forth with confidence and wonder! Do what you can to love the life you’re in, and take the opportunities you’re given!
Your true self will thank you.
*This is a Lemon Tree post