“He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.” - Raymond Hull
Too often, we get so caught up in the needs, opinions and reactions of others that we do not pay attention to the most important people in life -- ourselves. Our parents may not like the major that we choose in college. Our friends may not like the person we decide to date. Unknowingly, we find ourselves in an exhausting cycle of tending to the needs of everyone else but us.
But at the end of the day, the decisions we make in life will have a direct effect on us. Sure, your choices may impact those in your inner circle but the true consequences and rewards of your actions will be most apparent in your own life. Therefore, we must start living for ourselves, regardless of how it may affect those around us.
I believe one reason why individuals find this task so daunting is because they think that their friends, family, confidants, etc. have their best interest at heart. Surely, those who love you will not steer you wrong. And while this might be true, we must be aware of the fine line between being influenced by others and living for them. Everyone who cares about you will have an opinion or suggestion on how to better your situation, however, going with your own gut should always be the determining factor of your decisions.
Another reason people tend to downplay their dreams and abilities to accomplish them is because they don’t want to outshine anyone else. However, this behavior limits everyone. I believe Marianne Williamson explained it best when she said:
“Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
The greatest gift life has granted us is self-exploration. We must begin to discover what makes us happy, sad, smile, exhilarated or motivated. We must create identities for ourselves and stick to them. We must not be so easily moved by how others perceive us. Only then can we begin to recognize and live out our passions and dreams in life.
Never be afraid or apologetic in putting yourself first. If you want to leave your hometown and backpack across the country for a year, do it. If you want to quit your hundred thousand dollar education to get life experience, make it happen. If you want to quit your job and follow your dream career, make a plan for it and go after it. If you want to marry the man who makes you smile in the morning, get the ring.
In the end, life is too short to live for anyone but ourselves.