In this day and age, there seems to be no shortage of people voicing their opinions as to how others should live their lives. From those serving in a macro capacity in government or at major corporations, all the way down to the family level; these opinions appear to have permeated our society through and through. 

What impresses me most is those folks who’ve taken risks and chosen to blaze their own trails via personal choices. 

I find these individuals to be nothing short of heroic and inspirational and I never once shy away from telling them so. This past week, I had a lengthy discussion with one such friend, whom I’ve admired for decades. A single mom raising a boy in his late teens; the pair has been devoting many of their weekends of late to visiting colleges and universities within a two-state radius of where they live. On more than one occasion, she’s commented on just how much of a financial eye-opener that particular experience is.

At the onset, our conversation focused primarily upon her recent career accomplishments, but eventually gravitated towards some of the life decisions she’d made over the years in an effort to increase their options and deal from a position of strength. Interestingly, we kept coming back to one specific theme: personal choices. 

It reminded me of a passage that I’d come across a month prior, from the internationally recognized author and speaker, Dr. Wayne Dyer, who states in his book “Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling” — “There are many well-meaning people in our lives who have ideas about what we should or shouldn’t be doing. If we let them guide us with advice that isn’t congruent with our inner calling, we’ll suffer the anguish – the “slings and arrows” – of an uninspired life.”

Indeed, one of the key factors contributing to my friend’s success has been the degree to which she has remained steadfast in her approach, notwithstanding the heavy influence from those closest to her who’ve projected their own ideas regarding the path and lifestyle she should be pursuing. As we might expect, parents and other relatives tend to express a considerable amount of control when it comes to these matters. It’s when our choices diverge from expected norms that we encounter the greatest amount of resistance. 

Maintaining an authentic self, holding true to one’s beliefs and attitudes in the face of opposition, becomes increasingly more difficult as the stakes begin to rise. Our ability to proceed forward in light of this conflict can often-times leave us feeling isolated, especially when the source is family or long-term friends. Add to the mix cultural, racial, or religious pressures and you have quite the recipe for a seemingly endless stream of social commentary.

Life choices often come in various shapes and sizes, running the gamut from non-traditional career paths to gender self-identity. Not surprisingly, most, if not all, of the counter-argument is fear-based, and deeply rooted in the trappings of ego. Our clinging to the past, in which a wholly-subjective narrative has already been laid out for us to follow, is frequently the adversary that we’re up against. 

Consequently, when we choose to live life in the present moment, addressing events as they appear with a perspective of abundance (which originates from within, having nothing to do with obtaining “things”), we ultimately become a valuable resource for others to behold. 

Dr. Dyer would later go on to express in a subsequent passage the following sentiment, which I felt compelled to share with my friend later that same week: “When inspiration makes its presence known, we must pay attention if our priority is to be who we were meant to be. Suffering the consequences of living according to someone else’s wishes doesn’t make any sense; rather, we need to oppose the external opinions that try to force us to be what we’re not intended to be.”

Dave Davis
Dave Davis teaches preschool for the Head Start program based at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton, NY. He is also a frequent contributor to “Who Smarted?,” a popular educational podcast for elementary school children.

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