You Don’t Have to Become the Person Who Everyone Else Expects You to Be

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

“When I was a child, my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk you’ll end up as the pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” -Pablo Picasso

Author, Bronnie Ware spent years working in palliative care. After many intimate conversations as she sat by the bedsides of dying people, she discovered that the dying had a common theme of regrets.

While there were five regrets that commonly surfaced again and again, the most common was this:

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself not the life others expected of me.”

It saddens me that this is the reality of how many people live their lives. They live on other people’s terms and have to die knowing they’d honored what other people expected of them, not what was best for themselves.

Although the great news is that, I can tell you that you don’t have to live this life. You don’t have to become the person who everyone else expects you to be and you every right to carve your own path in order to live the life you want.

This article will explain why.

Here we go.

Not Being You Will Destroy You

“Not being you will destroy you. A life lived for “them” is ultimately a life wasted.” -Anthony Moore

Admittedly, a few years ago I found myself on a path that I hadn’t chosen for myself. I was at university not because I wanted to be there, but because society told me to. I was living not on my terms, but other people terms.

When it came to turning my life around and acting in ways congruent to my natural self, a lot of people no longer understood me.

They questioned my behaviors and beliefs; why would I get up at such early hours to write? Why would I value learning over entertainment?

And looking back, I don’t really blame them. Society isn’t welcoming to anyone’s who willing to stand out, and it’s a natural human tendency to become like those around you.

But at the time, I couldn’t see this.

I tried to reason with everyone. I tried to explain myself and change their perceptions. It came to a point that I almost went back to living an “ordinary life” until I finally realized that not being be me would lead to more pain than not being understood.

As Rita Mae Brown once wrote,

“The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself.”

What are you not currently doing because of what other people expect of you?

Think about how it’s going to make you feel in your last ten years, not your next ten years.

Said Seth Godin,

“Fitting in is a short-term strategy, standing out pays off in the long-run.”

Photo by W A T A R I on Unsplash

Live a Life that Impresses Yourself, Not Other People

“While most people are trying to impress other people, it’s far more inspiring to live a life that impresses yourself.” -Benjamin P. Hardy

It’s a natural instinct to try and impress others. The industrialists have taught us that we need to good grades to impress college recruiters, get a good job and then impress our bosses so we can move up the corporate ladder.

Although these are no measures of a successful life, the greatest measure of a successful life is: did I impress myself? Put best by Ernest Hemingway,

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

I know that my definition of success may never impress the masses. I may never make a million dollars, I may never have a house by the lake.

But if I can improve the lives of others, make my physique the best it can be, and travel the world I’ll be immensely proud of myself because those are the things that are important to me.

Similarly, investor Warren Buffett has said,

“The big question about how people behave is whether they’ve got an Inner Scorecard or an Outer Scorecard. It helps if you can be satisfied with an Inner Scorecard.”

The outer scorecard is based on how other people perceive you and the praises you get, both of which you actually have no control over. No matter how hard you try, you cannot directly control how anyone else thinks or feels about you.

While the inner scorecard is based on how good you want to be. It’s not dependent on being liked or chosen, but rather, ensuring that you’re satisfied with your actions and knowing that you did the best you could do.

As Buffet said, it certainly helps if you can be satisfied with an Inner Scorecard because spending a lifetime trying to size up to other people’s definition of success may impress a few people, but I can guarantee you won’t be impressing yourself.

Wrote James Altucher,

“Approval from others doesn’t guarantee success or happiness. It guarantees nothing. Sometimes it guarantees that you’ll be miserable.”

In Conclusion

When all said and done, the most common regret is to not live a life true to yourself.

Not being you will destroy you — if not now, it’ll certainly catch up at some point.

Don’t waste a lifetime trying to impress others; instead live a life that impresses yourself.

You don’t have to become the person who everyone else expects you to be.

What are you not currently doing because of what other people expect of you?

Go out and do it now.