About a month or so ago I had one of the most uncomfortable conversations with my parents about my future and my beliefs, but like most times in life when you allow yourself to get uncomfortable, new and interesting possibilities open up. What possibility came up for me? Well, I almost gave up my dreams! Or at least postponed them.
I learned something new that day that really made me step back and think. I learned why my mother didn’t go to college. Some how I never thought to ask why. Soon after high school she went to trade school and started working right away. I discovered that my mom had wanted to go to college, but she had witnessed her mother suffering and felt she had to start making money a.s.a.p. and take care of her. My mother, like most women made a sacrifice out of love. After telling me this she continued by saying, “you want to help people, start by helping your family.” Guilt quickly entered my body from all directions, overwhelmingly. I felt selfish and in a short moment every desire escaped except for the need to do whatever I could to support my family.
I have always been family-oriented and family-motivated. I wanted to succeed for them, so that I could take care of them. My family’s happiness was my happiness. I guess the more I grew as a person and learned about myself and what I truly wanted, the more those thoughts shifted and my definition of happiness changed. I still truly cared for their happiness but the source of their happiness no longer felt like my duty. Yet, what my mother said almost took me back to those old thoughts. After a short while the dreamer in me couldn’t let it settle and consume me. Honestly, I don’t know exactly what made me not give in but I knew I couldn’t pretend to be okay with working any old job just for them.
Though I still want to dream and make my dreams happen this whole ordeal still has me feeling at odds sometimes. I mean I have always admired strong women who make sacrifices and give all that they have to make their families and others happy and stable. I admired it until I realized that they give and give to everyone but themselves and are sometimes the most unhappy people. The other day my friend’s grandmother passionately suggested that we have fun with and make the most of our lives now before we marry some “ugly man and have some ugly kids” to take care of and commit to. Though funny this idea of giving up aspects of your self for others seems normal and even glorified in our society. The truth is most women end up in their 40s and 50s with an identity crisis. The truth is I can’t get with it.
Give up your dreams and serve others seems like the message. Luckily, last year I learned something very beautiful and oh so important about our dreams and passions during my “passion crisis.” I realized and am continually seeing that when you follow what ever it is that excites you in life and when you follow yourself, you are better able to help others! I think celebrities are the most obvious example of this. Take a singer like Alicia Keys. Singing is her passion and her success in it shows that she pursued it fully and didn’t sacrifice it for anything else. This success has put her in a great position to help kids in Africa through her work with Keep A Child Alive. Don’t you think a lot of people would have been better off if they had done what they loved?
I used to think that my passion was helping others until I realized, duh so is everyone else’s! It is our gifts, talents, skills and the things that excite us…the things that we obsess about and even the things that make us sound dorky when we discuss them, that make us better able to help others. Our passions are where we can begin to give to the world. So, if you truly want to help your family, help your world….then follow your bliss. It will give you all the tools or at the very least the beginning of the tools you need to serve others while bringing you joy.
As for now I trust in my passions to make my life and the life of others better. Malcolm S. Forbes once said that “when you cease to dream you cease to live.” I choose to live…what about you?
I don’t check Templater often, glad to have found this post!
My favorite part?
“I used to think that my passion was helping others until I realized, duh so is everyone else’s! It is our gifts, talents, skills and the things that excite us…the things that we obsess about and even the things that make us sound dorky when we discuss them, that make us better able to help others.”
I’ve always felt that whatever is truly best for you personally is also truly best for the world at large, and whatever is truly best for the world at large is also truly best for you personally. Me-or-others is, fundamentally, a false dilemma.
Wow, talk about powerful and moving words…
I see this sort of sacrifice a lot in the young military mothers caring for their kids. I just can’t see giving up myself and my life for that, selfish as it may be of me.
It seems to me that the very idea of taking care of yourself and putting your needs first makes some people want to automatically label you selfish, when it’s not. Took me a while to learn that, but I still feel like I learned it early on enough to save me from a lot.
thanks Meg! Yeah I think that the idea of being selfish is what really got to me…but at the same time I realized that in some ways I was being unselfish, since I truly want to contribute something meaningful to the world…thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂
Holly Renee says
My family is great at the guilt thing as well. It took me forever to realize I’m only responsible for myself. Way to stand up for yourself and give the world what you have to offer!
thanks for saying that 🙂 nice to have people on your side ya know! 😉
Monique Johnson says
I really like your post Nawala! I am going through a “passions crisis” myself. I have been struggling for quite some time to truly find what my passions are. I believe I will find them one day (hopefully soon), but I definitely can relate to this article.
thanks monique! glad to know others can relate…looking at your site and your direction it seems you will definitely find them soon! 🙂 best of luck!
Great post! Touched me and I fully agree!
thanks! ‘preciate it! 🙂
Pren-Tsilya Boa says
I love this article. It even speaks true to the internal conflicts that so many of us face. Even beyond our family struggles, sometimes we struggle against societal expectations of ourselves and our notions of what we are “supposed” to be doing that we don’t take the time to see what we want to do. I can absolutely relate. Well put.
Powerful post, Nawala. While the short term solution may be to get a job and make money to support your family, the long term solution is to follow your dream, create the life of your dreams, and help as many people along the way as possible, all while being happy. I’ve never really thought of it this way, but it makes so much sense.
thanks for the comment! i think you’re absolutely right about short term/long term goals.
Veron Graham says
Wow. Yeah. Sometimes the tensions felt from family not fully understanding our passions and purpose can be more difficult than the ones we feel from friends or associates. I can relate in some ways. I’m sure in time, the genuine love and support of family will fully see the realized vision you now have.
Very well said Nawala!! “If you truly want to help your family, help your world….then follow your bliss.”
Glad to see you on Untemplater! 😉
Mr. Dont Sleep says
I choose to live, Nawala, and I thank you for opening up my mind and heart. I totally agree with how sad it is that so many of us choose to live in misery for what we think will bring others happiness. I myself have realized recently that what good is it to please a loved one if I myself live in misery.