It feels heavy when the decisions you have made for yourself are questioned, doubted and rejected by those closest to you. The people you thought would support you without a doubt because you would if the tables were turned. Perhaps in some situations it isn’t outright with words, but with subtle actions or looks. You, in reaction, may start questioning your own choices and perhaps even start to belittle yourself in the process.
While people can say, “Well, you don’t need their support or approval.” No matter how true that is, for many who are going an untraditional route – like not going to a brick-and-mortar university – or even dare to make their dreams a reality, it is natural to want your loved ones to be rooting for you with pride behind their eyes. And it is completely understandable when your excitement turns into hurt when you receive a reaction that you didn’t want or even expect.
If you are going through this and are feeling frustrated, disappointed, confused or any other emotion similar to these, please take a moment to breathe right now. Take note of your emotions and feel them. If your jaw is clenched or your chest is tight after an encounter with a loved one, take another breath and try to release all the tension that is trying to keep you together.
If it helps to write out your emotions, do that. If you want to sing and dance to a playlist that motivates you, go ahead and shake off all the negative vibes. Or if you feel like taking a walk or short trip alone, lead with your gut and take in the scenery. Whatever helps, as long as you’re safe, just take that step.
The next thing you can try to do – perhaps the most recommended in any sort of relationship when there are issues – is to try to open up dialogue with that other person, especially if they are close to you. If you like, make the time and space to have that conversation. It doesn’t have to be serious, like waiting for the next time they come to your living space and sternly ordering them to sit down in the chair in front of you as you pour out your feelings to them. (Of course, you can do that, if you want.) It can be done over a simple lunch at home or a walk around town and can be started off at any point by simply popping the question, “Hey, can we talk about something that’s been bothering me?”
It is more than understandable that one wants to avoid having “a talk” with someone else because it means having to discuss heavy topics or emotions. But, it is crucial to do so when relationships are worthwhile. And, to ease any fear one might have, it will most likely not escalate beyond conversing about how you both feel and reassuring any doubts or worries. It may even change things for the better in future interactions when the topic comes up.
Unfortunately, even having a pleasant conversation with someone does not guarantee that they will be understanding, sympathetic or approve of your actions at the end of the day. And that is okay. They might not understand fully or are looking at the choice you are making as it is one they wouldn’t do themselves and therefore feel no one they know and love should either.
It is not your job to keep making space and time to explain your decisions, especially if you feel like eventually one day your explanation will be worthy enough in their eyes. The decision you will make or have already made has enough validity and worth because it is yours. If anything, you will be losing your patience, your energy and are signing up for disappointment each time if you know that the conversation always ends in the same outcome. So, breathe and try to move past through it by reassuring yourself.
Know that you are doing what is best for you and that is what matters. Regardless if its starting up a small business, going to university online or even going through a physical transformation, these (and more) are decisions that you’re making for you! Undoubtedly, these are decisions you are making that are more than likely made to improve your quality of life in the long-run. You wouldn’t think to go through with it otherwise. Don’t let the doubt of others dictate whether or not you should or at least try to live out your dreams. Simply go for it.
It might be lonely and disappointing that you can’t take everyone you love on your journey. Even more if you go through bumps on the road and perhaps have that be used against you. But, know that this isn’t forever. Loved ones can come around with time. Some may still carry some doubt or negativity, but will ease up. Others may not, but trust me – you will not be alone all the time.
While the new people you meet along your path will never replace your loved ones, these new and friendly faces will become more familiar and surprisingly be incredibly supportive. They may understand where you are coming from, in their own way, or they might not. But, having support and understanding, regardless of where or who it comes from, is always worth appreciating in this journey. Even if it isn’t from who you want.
And an honorable mention that you should always keep in mind is yourself. Be your biggest supporter. Treat yourself with kindness and gentleness. Always put yourself and your achievements on the pedestal, even if your achievement was in merely trying. Don’t ever let the reaction or approval of anyone else get put on the pedestal before your own.
You got this!