In high school, you probably had a friend whom all the parents loved. You remember the type: good student, athletic team star, community volunteer, kind to children and animals, etc, etc. This kid never got in trouble and always did everything that was expected of her. And every time your mom or dad praised her, you would feel a little twinge of envy. A part of you wished you were that kid.
The part of us that wants to be loved — by other people’s parents and our own — doesn’t go away just because we get older. Countless adults stay in jobs and relationships they dislike because they believe it’s what they’re supposed to do. It’s more important to them to be perceived positively in the minds of others than to go after what will truly make them happy.
I see these people every day. There’s the New York lawyer who works 100 hours a week at a big-shot firm because his wife wants a big house in Westchester — but who would really rather rent an apartment in Brooklyn so he can be a state prosecutor. Then there’s the woman who opened a boutique with her best friend and has since realized that she’s not cut out to be an entrepreneur, but now feels obligated to make the store her permanent career.
Are you living the life that your friends, family members or colleagues think you should have? If you’re still trying to be the kid whom all the parents loved, stop for a minute and think about how you’d feel if you died tomorrow and were asked if you did everything you wanted to do with your life during the short time you were on Earth. Life is tough enough when it hits us with negative events and circumstances that we can’t anticipate. Your career, and the skills and talents you contribute to society, are aspects of your life that you can control, and you have a responsibility to yourself to use them to be the person you really want to be.