Do you ever dream of giving up your job and doing something worthwhile with your life? Ever think of travelling around the world, either for a few months every year, or for an extended period? Dropping out of the rat race and buying a house high up in the mountains, where you raise chickens and grow potatoes for a living?
Starting your own company, which will make use of new innovation to revolutionize the way business is conducted? Filing for divorce, so that you can put the past behind you and spend what is left of your life in the pursuit of real happiness?
So many people claim they want the best for us. Our parents, siblings, spouses. But try suggesting a bold new venture that might challenge your family’s way of looking at the world, and suddenly you’re being told to reign in your passions, to be more responsible, to listen to reason. So what if you quash your dreams ? So what if your idea could reap large profits after a few years of uncertainty? Stay on the trodden path, we are told. Don’t deviate from what society has established is the ‘correct’ way of doing things. Don’t only think about yourself, don’t be SELFISH.
I’m not going to name all the go-getters who burned the midnight oil so that they could find evidence to support what they knew to be true, even though the collective rationality of society told them that their ideas were baseless. From Edison to Steve Jobs, our lives have been enriched by visionaries who dared to follow their dreams and hold on tightly to their passions even in the face of tremendous odds; what if your dream has the same potential?
Also read: 10 Reasons why Entrepreneurship is awesome
And when people try to curb your dream, can you still forge ahead even though you’re called self-centered? Yes, you can and here’s why:
1. Because ‘selfish’ is a misnomer
It’s not selfishness to trust your own ideas and risk your future on an enduring belief. Maybe what they’re actually calling you is ‘non-conformist’. After all, if you’re a good human being, shouldn’t you stake your happiness on a secure job, a guaranteed salary, and the approval of every great-grand aunt? What, you want to do what your heart tells you?
If you examine their real reasons for wanting to stop you, you might be surprised to find that there is a great deal of selfishness involved–on their part. It’s not always your good they’re looking out for. Often, the family of a dreamer worries about how they will maintain their lifestyle or their place in society if you dare to be different. This isn’t you being selfish, it’s them!
2. Because in the final analysis, only you are responsible for what you make of your life
Make a success of your life and people around you will applaud. Fail miserably and people will criticize, whether you were following their advice of not. If I donate a portion of my earnings to the poor because it makes me feel good about myself, am I not selfish? In fact, selfishness goes hand-in-hand with self-preservation: today, it’s not the survival of the fittest but of the most open-minded. You have two options—to do as the crowd does and struggle for a slice of life, or to bake your own pie and live on your own terms.
3. Because the people who advocate mediocrity are ‘Average Joes’ who haven’t made anything of their own lives
They want you to do things the way they have done them. Who are you to dare to be different, who told you that you can go against your parents and think for yourself? Your elders know best; true knowledge can only be acquired by experience. One sure-fire way to counter these arguments is to find out whether they ever lived out a dream, no matter how mundane. If they have never trusted themselves, how will they ever let you trust yourself?
4. Because your dream promises self-actualization, and possibly, immortality
Your orthodox idea is your baby, your own jealously-guarded secret, an inner voice telling you truths that you cannot ignore. The more unique and unbelievable the dream is, the slimmer are the chances of you finding supporters. But if you believe strongly in your opinions, you have to be willing to defend them and fight for them. It’s not going to be smooth sailing; you’re not going to be voted president. The dream itself has to be rewarding enough to be inherently motivating, even if others consider you crazy.
Dependents consider their own comfort more important than allowing you to follow some far-fetched passion on a path as yet untrodden. From childhood, we are taught that our decisions impact others, so we are encouraged to make decisions based on the common good. And if nothing else, there is always guilt: what if something happens to your loved ones? Well, ask them whether they believe in God or karma…shouldn’t there be some quid-pro-quo that rewards good and punishes evil?
This article was originally published in MensXP.com