We had a really interesting conversation with a guest speaker in my Fair Trade class last Monday about following directions. So often, we feel that we are bound to act the way others construct for us because it seems like the "right" thing to do. We go through the motions, get jobs, go to networking events with people we don't like, practice for hours but never get playing time...why do we do this? Who do we feel the need to do this for and what would happen if we stopped? We never really engage, or see the real implications of our actions, yet we do them anyways because we feel it is what we are supposed to do. We hesitant to change the way we live because we are scared of the resulting insecurities, negative consequences, judgments, or failure to live up to others' expectations. To me, this represents such an opportunity cost, because more often than not, people never start the businesses they know could be successful, quit the jobs they hate, or end miserable relationships because it goes against the "role" they think they ought to be playing. There is an imaginary barrier between what we really want and what we think we should be doing that keeps us from being truly happy. We can be content for the time being, proud of the 4.0's in the classes we do not like or the teams that we are a part of, and experience happiness on a superficial basis, but there is a difference between this temporary satisfaction and a real sense of fulfillment.
The guy who talked to my class had finished college as a finance major, and had a job lined up on Wall Street after graduation, which meant a sure way to pay off his college debt. But he didn't become a banker. Instead he turned from a contract ensuring a steady income to teaching English in Sri Lanka. He now lives at home and is just getting back in the job market instead of making six figures. Why did he make this decision? He ignored all the constructs that had been set up for him, from his home, his school, and his classmates and did what he wanted to, what he felt was right, and had the guts to go and do what he thought would make him into a better person.
This thought had a big impact on me, because I can see this fear towards decision making in myself. I am not saying that as a result of this conversation, I am going to drop out of college, sell my belongings, and live out of an RV in order to seek the meaning of happiness. I would, however, like to use this conversation to reflect and make it a habit to ask myself why and for who I am making decisions for more often in order to make sure that I am only devoting time to things that add value to my life. More importantly, even thought it is scary, I want to learn to realize that it is okay to not follow directions sometimes. The more I think about it, the more I realize that we don't have time to spend on things that make us unhappy. Because if we're unhappy, we're not engaging in a way that will allow us to have the best influence on those around us and the work we do. And the world could use more people like that.
I'd like to share one way that blogging adds value to my life: being able to interact and actually make an impact! It motivates me to keep going forward with this great experiment.
Do you sometimes feel like you are expected to "follow directions"? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Also, please remember to keep liking and sharing, thanks! :)