It’s easy to dwell on the past, old mistakes, or missed opportunities. For years I didn’t even realize I was settling for less! Instead of following my heart, I listened to the opinions of people who weren’t in alignment with me, questioned my abilities, or stayed quiet in fear of being misunderstood. It took several years, a lot of lessons, and some encouragement to discover I didn’t need to believe in anything but myself.
I hid my talents and creativity for years because I was afraid of being criticized. It didn’t even occur to me that I may get positive feedback! As a child, any recognition wasn’t worth the hurtful things I may have heard (keyword: may). At seven years old I wrote and illustrated an entire collection of children’s stories called “Suey and Friends.” Suey was a chipmunk who went on all sorts of adventures with her crew. Each character had a unique personality, often based on dreams I had or friends of my own. My mom still has those old pieces of paper somewhere back in Michigan… she believed in me and encouraged me to continue creating. Although it was just a hobby to me, she always insisted we send them to agents or publishers. Being the shy and insecure girl I was, I never agreed to it.
It’s been 25 years since my last Suey story, but if there’s one takeaway from this all, it’s that life is too short to hold back.
Today I would rather be criticized than miss an opportunity.
2018 is right around the corner, and I’m ready to take on the next steps of my life- whatever they may be. 2017 was an amazing year to focus on myself, develop a solid foundation, and decide what I truly wanted. Big dreams no longer scare me, and hard work has become second nature. The key to hard work is to follow your heart and do something you love.
Since moving on from Suey and friends, there’s a long list of things I have done as a middle finger to the people who hurt or second guessed me. Although I didn’t do anything deliberately mean, I did my best to succeed, stand out, or surpass any doubts or negativity they threw my way. I called off my engagement with a controlling engineer and moved to San Francisco, started a style blog in my hometown of people who bullied me, and pursued a marketing career in New York. Things definitely didn’t go as planned, but that’s okay. Although I am glad the anger and pain inspired my creativity, I learned one important lesson:
You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone but you.
When your intentions are pure, everything falls in place. My life often fell apart because it wasn’t acting in alignment with my soul: I was simply doing things out of ego. I no longer hold those old resentments or fear… and I can thank my spiritual practice and support system for giving me the strength to live my life with more love and compassion.
As you reflect on your goals for the future, remember to follow your heart; it will certainly take you a lot further than acting on ego or fear. When you set your mind to it, you can have anything you want out of this crazy and beautiful life. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.