I was scrolling through social the other day, and I came across this awesome video. It shows a little girl in a dance class, just doing her thing, not caring AT ALL what other people around her might be thinking. You can see how happy and alive she is, just enjoying the music and moving her body along with it, unencumbered by all of society’s judgments and preconceived notions of how she should act in public.
I thought for a minute: How amazing is it that she can just be herself in this moment? And I related to her enthusiasm because I have also been known to break into a crazy dance party without needing a drop of alcohol in my system.
You see, when we grow into adulthood, many of us start taking on society’s rules and constructs and modify our natural behaviors to fit into a certain mold that we think is acceptable. We do this for a variety of reasons — we want to fit in, and not be ridiculed or judged for standing out or being different. This comes from our innate need to be part of a community or tribe, which is important for our survival — or at least, it once was. But it can also stop us from being who we truly are at our core — innocent, happy beings, full of joy and love.
And while dancing is just one small example of this, it gets trickier when it’s around allowing yourself to find your passions, and then really going after them.
Why is it So Hard to Break Free?
Many of us struggle to break free from the mold society put us in, and we are deathly afraid of doing something in our lives that is outside of the norm because we worry about what our friends and family will think of us. This is especially true when it comes to our careers because they form a large part of our identity.
If you need further proof, think about how you introduce yourself to others at a dinner party and what their follow-up question usually is. I can almost guarantee that it’s some version of: “What do you do for a living?”
I know it’s hard to change the way you see yourself because I coach new business owners who are trying to make the switch from employee to entrepreneur. They struggle with this transition because everything is new and they’re challenging the status quo when they decide to become business owners.
When they come to me, many have a strong fear of failure, not only around their finances but also around their overall business success. They don’t want to be seen as incapable or unsuccessful in their new endeavors, because it would prove their fears right in the eyes of their friends. They have self-critical thoughts like:
“Why am I even doing this? Who am I to think I can succeed at starting a new business?”
It’s hard for them to pivot to something new because they’re so used to living a certain way and being a certain person in the eyes of the world. They understand themselves as a diligent employee who follows the rules, not an entrepreneur who makes them. And usually, they have had success as an employee, which makes it even more difficult for them because they have those same high expectations when they start their business.
And a lot of times, they’re also very aware of what their family might think if they choose to follow their own path, especially if they were raised by parents who wanted them to go after safer, more predictable careers. (I’m talking to you, children of immigrant parents!)
Not to mention, if they were given any kind of financial support by their family, they may feel indebted to them, even if they hate their current job or life situation. They feel stuck, and I help them move through this feeling so they get to the other side, more confident to finally go after their dreams.
Here are a Few Things You Can Do to Stop Caring So Much:
1. Realize that people will judge you. They already do.
As you’re reading the words on this page and possibly taking a look at my bio photo, you’re judging me. It’s okay, it’s something we all do, and it is part of human nature. We have to quickly categorize things to survive, and part of that categorization is making quick judgments of other people. But it’s up to you to not let other people’s thoughts crowd your mind. Their judgments only get power over you when you listen to them. You do you, and keep moving forward.
2. Decide that it’s time to pursue your dreams.
It’s normal to feel like you have to do what you think society or your family wants for you, but eventually, you’ll come to a point where enough is enough. If you continue to listen to others’ opinions on how you should live your life, you’ll most likely end up miserable and resentful. So, it’s a decision you have to make, that you are no longer going to live a mediocre life, and instead want to focus on things that truly fulfill you. And that decision takes courage, but it’s also super freeing once you’ve made it. Because you stop telling yourself the story that you can’t [insert dream here].
It really is a story, after all. Most likely, your family or friends won’t disown you if you follow your dreams. While it may be difficult at first, if they’re at least a little bit supportive of your overall happiness, they’ll understand. And even if they don’t, it’s you who has to decide to move forward — with their approval, or not.
If you’re still holding on to the thought that once you get to a certain level in your career or life, you’ll be happy, you may want to re-examine your beliefs and motivations. Because you’ve most likely drunk the Kool-Aid and convinced yourself that this is the only way. There is so much more out there, you just have to have the courage to choose your own happiness.
3. Do things that make you feel uncomfortable.
The fastest way to stop caring what people think about you is to do things that you wouldn’t normally allow yourself to do. For example, I’ve been following this neuroplasticity-based program to heal from a chronic illness for the past two and a half years. Part of the program is based around mood elevation — as in, doing things that bring you joy, just because.
One day, I decided to dance in my front yard and blow bubbles. I remember my husband asking me if it would be better if I danced in the backyard, so our neighbors wouldn’t see me. It was in that moment that I realized I don’t give a shit what other people have to say about me. I had so much fun prancing around the yard and celebrating my recent progress in the program. So much so, that I’ve made this bubble ceremony a monthly practice to celebrate my wins!
So, my challenge to you is this: What can you do today that would bring you joy, even if it might make people look at you a little funny?
To get you started, think about all the things you did when you were a little kid that brought a smile to your face. Rollerblading, dancing, building pillow forts with your sibling––you get the idea. This practice will help you embrace your quirks and desires and start living life like the little girl in the video.
After all, we only have one life to live, so it’s about time that we start truly living.
→ If you’re ready to create a business that brings you real purpose and passion, check out www.agathabrewer.com. I work with new entrepreneurs who are looking to get the clarity and confidence to launch their businesses with ease.