Life isn't always easy. Especially when the choices you make differ from everyone else's. So should you make them? Are your dreams worth the trouble?
Here's my experience with going after a goal that isn't the norm.
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It's expected of most people to follow the norm. Finish High school, pick a safe career in college, work until you can retire. They say to follow your dreams, to keep going towards your goals, but then go back on their words for not doing enough or making enough money.
So what do you do when the path you want to take, or have already chosen, isn't the norm? How do you handle the people around you who continually talk down to you or compare you to others? All of this is something I've experienced.
Around July of 2018 I decided I didn't want to continue University and instead pursue writing my novel. I was 16, taking a career to learn Spanish, while putting off this book that has been in my mind since 2013. And thankfully, my family was very supportive of this decision. Because I was only 16, even if I had already graduated from high school.
During the next 6 months or so I worked on writing this novel, working towards its completion. And in that time I turned 17. Not a huge change in my opinion, but according to some others it was. Or more so, because of my living situation, growing up faster because I live in a foreign country. Most new people I meet never think I'm 17, I'm always much older in their minds.
So how did this idea of me being older than I really am change things?
What caused the shift away from support?
My depression. Because I was, in fact, not happy in my situation. It didn't last long because I knew the opportunities waiting for me in the future, but I was lonely and others took this as a sign that my decisions were a mistake, saying I am too old to only be focusing on this goal without making any money.
Now in my mind, everyone goes through sad phases and difficult time, so for me this was nothing to worry about. I still had my goals and I'd be damned if I didn't go through with them. And because I am only 17!!! why do I have to have a steady income? Not to mention, in Paraguay, I'm not allowed to work in any establishment until I'm 18. So where's the problem?
Still, others had different ideas for me.
It started with a miscommunication between my mother and I. And of course, because we are the only two in our family living in Paraguay, miscommunication can cause big problems. Which is exactly what happened in my recent trip back to Michigan.
Since my mother had a chance to talk with friends and family about things going on in Paraguay, the subject of my unhappiness came up. And it came back to the miscommunication I was still having with my mother at the time. This led to a bad response from a few people in my family, creating a difficult, ultimatum like question. Should I move back to Michigan?
But even with the hurt, deep in my mind I knew that moving back wasn't the right decision. Making it the reason I'm still living in Paraguay.
Still, the problems with my family grew, my goals suddenly being insufficient. Without asking my plans for the future, on other things besides my book I am working towards, I was given a horrible lecture that brought me to tears. It was disrespectful to me and completely unnecessary. Because this person also knew at the time that things had already been worked out with my mother, the problem and miscommunication being fixed.
The lecture included statements similar to these: you need to go back to school/university, you need a job, you need to start supporting yourself, trash this novel because you haven't finished it, remember you'll be a failure until you start bringing money in. But, in a much harsher way.
And he wondered why I was brought to tears, saying it was because I was sensitive to the topic. Which granted, I was, but not for the reason he thought. My sensitivity came from his harshness, while also still dealing with the aftermath of the miscommunication with my mother.
This is how my trip in Michigan ended. Why I needed to take a bit of a break from social media to refigure out my life. And I have. Because my goals haven't changed, only grown that much larger. So with taking this experience, along with some other unmentioned ones, I want to help others who also want, or have taken, an unconventional path in life.
So what did I learn from this experience?
1. Not everyone is going to support you. But if you have both the negative and the positive you're more likely to keep moving forward with your goals.
2. If you have the opportunity to follow a dream, do it, because it gets more difficult the older you get. I still have months until I'm 18, with a mother who supports me, believes in even when others don't. So take the chance, you might not get it again.
3. You'll go through tough patches. If your dream is unconventional; author, photographer, actor, artist, etc., not only do you have to face your own self criticism, but also criticism from others as well. And for those not prepared, it can make you faith in your goals.
4. If someone, family or otherwise, treats you rudely because of your dream, let's say calling it unrealistic, stand up for yourself. Or even better get the proof to show them that to you it is realistic. If you can do that, you'll be that much stronger for it.
5. Don't just have ONE goal! When people see that that one goal is the only thing you're going after, they tend to be more critical. As some examples, here's how I solved my issue of people not thinking I'm doing enough; taking free online university courses, teaching English as a side job, pursuing modeling, etc. Pick some things on the side that you enjoy and do them! You don't have to spend a lot of time doing them, but it shows you being more active, which in turn can lessen the criticism.
My Advice To You
It sucks. It sucks to have loved ones not believe in your capability. I know it completely broke my heart. But I choose to take it as motivation. Is my dream a long shot? Yes, but not impossible. Do I have the time? Yes, but I won't procrastinate with that time. Because my dreams, the goals I have, are too important to me.
And I know, I'm still very lucky, sometimes more than most. Because the person I live with, who I spend most of my time with, my mother, is incredibly supportive of my goals, which I know a lot of people don't have.
So what if you don't have the support? It'll most likely be that much more difficult, but never impossible. Because if you have a calling to pursue something, something that makes you feel alive, then in my mind you have no other option but to see how far you can take it, no matter what you have to go through to get there.
This is the best advice I can give to you, and I truly hope you all pursue your dreams.