Finding the Courage to Go After What You Want Out of Life

“Just because you’re not doing what other people are doing, that doesn’t mean you’re failing or falling behind. You’re charting your own course and staying true to yourself, even though it would be easier to join the crowd. You’re creating a life you can fall in love with instead of falling in line. You’re finding the courage to do what’s right for you, even though it’s uncertain and scary and hard. Give yourself some credit, because these are all reasons to be proud.” ~Lori Deschene

I wouldn’t call myself a laid-back person. I have anxiety that leads me to catastrophize, and I struggle with perfectionism. That said, I do pride myself on being a person who’s able to go with the flow, who’s open to just about anything—a person who is, in a word, agreeable.

Where do you want to go to lunch? I’m okay with whatever. Which movie should we watch? I can probably find something to enjoy in most of them. What should we do this weekend? I don’t know; what do you want to do?

If I have a really strong opinion about something, I’ll speak up, but what I really enjoy is being in the company of people I care about. I’m usually most happy when everybody around me is happy. As far as I’m concerned, the details of what we’re doing don’t matter as much as the fact that we’re doing it together.

This attitude is rooted in a number of different things.

For one, I was raised in a mid-sized, West Coast, seaside town where slow movement and a languid approach to decision making were part of the local culture.

In addition, I usually took on the role of passive peacemaker in my family of origin, making sure the stress level was manageable for all involved by avoiding conflict at every turn.

Finally, I grew up immersed in a religion that believed humans were inherently bad and it was essential for each of us to follow God’s will, as opposed to our own, in any given moment.

Thanks to this combination of influences, I learned to tune out my own desires (to the point where, after a while, I couldn’t even hear them anymore) and take every reasonable opportunity offered to me as a potential good.

I have rarely said “No” in my life—not because I didn’t want to be offensive or hurtful, but because I didn’t want to miss out on what that experience might have to offer. And, there’s also the fact that I had no trust in my own imagination or sense of personal direction.

These aren’t always bad traits to have. I’ve met a lot of interesting people, seen a lot of gorgeous places, and tried some very unique foods (fried sheep brains, anyone?) because I was open to what the people around me had in mind. Deferring to the whims of others can have its perks.

Plus, it is true that sometimes other people know better than we do about certain things. I’ve found myself on many an unexpected but fruitful detour in my life thanks to an idea someone else gave me that I never would have thought of myself.