This post is going to be a little bit of writing therapy for myself because I don’t always do what I truly want, and it actually hurts. I haven’t always done exactly what I have wanted to and the decision to put other people’s ‘shoulds’ as a priority cuts me deeply even today, so I have experienced a few rock bottoms and many mini rock bottoms as a result. I hope what I write here also helps anybody reading to find a way into believing that they have the right to do whatever is in their power to follow their heart and intuition because it always pays off. I know it feels heavy at times and as though you just can’t. Trust me, peeling back years of conditioning and people pleasing can feel like wading through thick mud at times, but the journey would be pointless without the optimism that a sense of happiness and fulfilment lives on the other side of the clearing. Mud or no mud, I’m going to remind myself that there have been a handful of times in my life where I have just followed what felt true and good to me and they have been some of the best decisions I’ve made. Somewhere along the line though I lost trust in my own inner compass. It was as if somebody else’s guidance gadget was more reliable, shinier and, safer maybe? We all know about appearances though and how they can be so deceptive and lead us astray. Shatter those illusions and you see a whole new truth beyond, wondering why you ever bought into in the first place.
When I was in my teens every time I said I wanted to be an author, a writer or something creative career-wise, I was literally laughed at by family members, as though that was such a ludicrous idea and what money, stability or life would I ever be able to make for myself pursuing a dream. My mum would step in as well to say I should follow traditional career roots that guaranteed income and good job status so study something like Medicine or Pharmacy. If you were raised in an Indian family I’m sure you hear me, but I can imagine any culture has their own belief system as to what is seen as reputable. Whilst I know she just wanted the best opportunities for me, my whole soul would contract at the thought of it and something just felt so wrong, because for a start I hated sciences and logic. I knew that the free spirit I housed underneath these layers of wanting to do the right thing would not thrive in a disciplinary career and back then it was very much seen as a career that had rarely any scope for creativity. So I continued to daydream about writing and pressed on with working hard towards achieving the necessary grades. My heart was saying one thing but my head was telling me to tick the boxes and once I’d ‘made it’ as such I could trade it all in for writing. I mean it’s not such a bad idea and I would commend anyone to keep a stable career plan going whilst they work on their passions but I know for me personally my soul felt repressed by this, there were alarm bells singing no to this particular career path in sciences. Still I didn’t listen to myself, I felt too afraid to listen, mostly out of fear of breaking my mums dream for me. I’ll get into why trying to fulfil someone else’s dream is not always such a gleaming idea as much as you love them and want to make them feel happy. I gave up the subjects I actually wanted to study at college as you could only choose three and a career in Pharmacy or Medicine would mean taking on two sciences and either Maths or Psychology. Here is a great example of where the Universe literally has your back because Psychology saved me a bit as you’ll find out reading on. I wanted to take Philosophy and English but with my science subjects I wouldn’t be able to fit it all in. Life Lesson 121 – never say no to the things you love, because they matter and I spent two miserable years studying subjects I had no passion for, no understanding of, struggling through with awful teachers and extra tutoring which I dreaded every week because I didn’t even understand what the Tutor was trying to teach me!
My mum came with me to the University open day for the Pharmacy degree and afterwards I remember coming out of there with a feeling of sadness, a heaviness and as though my world had grown a little darker. I voiced my opinions with my mum but it led to a few arguments (think Bend it Like Beckham) and misunderstandings, so I resigned myself for a while to this path, thinking maybe I could find a way to make the best of the situation. Come the end of college I got a really low grade in chemistry, a decent grade in Biology but I aced Psychology and I won the subject award for Psychology. Says it all really and life lesson 133 – you know deep down what is right for you. So after my grades came through I said to my mum that’s it I’m changing the degree course, I’m opting out of Pharmacy and you can see here from my grades why I’m choosing to do this. She was ok with that, maybe a little disappointed but she was still happy for me, and accepting. I was terrified of course about telling her because what she thought mattered a great deal to me but life lesson 265 – if what you want to do what scares you, just do it scared! Again it pays off.
Persevering with what you want even when others don’t get it has huge pay offs. It’s worth going for what you want. University was hard in itself, as I was shy, a little socially anxious and because I didn’t drink alcohol sometimes it felt hard to fit in with my peers and the party lifestyle. I experienced some difficult friendships, where people were taking advantage of my easy going nature. So with all this I think if I was studying a subject I hated then I might have really struggled, but studying something I loved gave me the life force to enjoy University and make it a good experience. I had an abundance of motivation and it helped my confidence. Knowing it was my decision to do this and I was successful in it gave me greater trust and self belief. Choosing for myself what felt in alignment created extra magic because The Universe always blesses us with more than we can imagine when we take that decision for ourselves, opening me up to new possibilities. If I had chosen to study Pharmacy against my own will, it would have meant staying at home, being more of a recluse, a lack of interesting experiences and I wouldn’t have developed friendships or learnt to hold my own. Taking Psychology forced me out of a comfort zone I didn’t even recognise I was in because it meant moving away from Home.
I wish I had held onto the juice I had created for myself at University. Shortly after I finished studying I met my soulmate – the one, and got married, which added a whole other layer to my tendency of people pleasing. Marrying an Indian guy meant a new wave of people entered my life in the form of extended family with their ideas and opinions and two pence worth. Looking back I felt like I was under a microscope, having to live up to what society classed was a good wife and daughter in law, and I had picked up so many beliefs about this throughout my upbringing. These beliefs kept me safe for sure, but they didn’t serve me in the best way. Life lesson 611 – there’s no such thing as the perfect way to be anything; it’s an illusion and a story we have been perpetuating. My decisions, choices, how I ate, lived, spoke, was scrutinised so I slowly lost grip again and lost faith in myself. Even worse I wasn’t giving myself permission to fail. My Libra shadow side played out immensely. I said yes to things I didn’t want to do. It’s not that I enjoyed being told what to do, it’s that I didn’t realise I had the option to listen to myself. This leaves lasting effects, because living around other people’s agenda’s and schedules suddenly becomes an unbearable pressure. It took a nervous break down for me to realise this was not how I want to live, although it’s not so easy to start living a new way when you’re so used to checking you are ok with someone else and by somebody else’s standards. A part of you stops believing you are ok without their opinion. When you are being told you are a good person, because of XYZ reasons and suddenly those reasons feel misaligned or stop resonating, they make you feel less than and it’s dangerous because when you do stop doing those things, let’s just say people pleasing, then all of a sudden you’re left in a darkness and a conflict because you don’t want to go back to being that person yet there is no one affirming you anymore and it becomes harder to trust in what you’re doing. To be your authentic self you have to be willing to give up external validation, because it is hard to believe you are inherently good without the things they said made you good. So it’s taking a lot of digging deep and a loneliness in fact to be able to sit with myself and trust that I will be fine without somebody telling me I’m fine; to recognise if I don’t tick certain boxes, that doesn’t make me any less entitled to a happy life.
I would often have conversations about this with friends and family, purely out of frustration, like why does being nice and trying to do the right thing get you nowhere – no rewards, no freedom,…only things almost blowing up in your face and people bringing you down even more? Life lesson 155 – It’s got nothing to do with being a nice or right person – having no boundaries doesn’t make you any nicer or correct than the next person and having boundaries and honouring your own desires does not make you any less of a nice or decent person or any less inherently kind and compassionate. In fact you create more space for you to be those amazing qualities as you’re giving from a fuller cup. Going back to the extended family situation, I was fine before I met my husband, I just didn’t know it or believe it. I had got quite far in life without another family’s opinions and was able to hold my own pretty well so why did I forget that? It’s because I played into this idea of low self-worth, that somehow marrying was the answer to help me feel more complete as a person, but life lesson 309 – I had everything within me already that gave me wholeness and worthiness. If I had begun married life from that view maybe things would have been easier. I can only say this in hindsight really because incredibly in the time we are living in now we have so many reminders and awakenings to this truth through self-help and social media culture. At the time I wouldn’t have known it so it’s something I need to heal. It’s a Karma.We chose to live in this time, our soul chose to come here to heal these issues but it brings me onto my next point which is to keep asking questions, and keep taking deep dives into your pain. When you start asking and questioning the way things are and why they don’t make you feel happy, that’s not negativity, it’s inviting the Universe to show you a better way. When I took a mental inventory of hang on a minute what the F is this? Why does “God” let people feel like this, I was led to a spiritual teacher that helped me hear the answers in a way that made sense for the first time – in this lifetime anyway! It’s a remembering and at the same time I discovered The Secret documentary by Rhonda Byrne and I know it gets a bad press but it helped wake me up to taking back my power to be open to positive changes, take responsibility for my thoughts and feelings, believe in possibilities beyond what I knew, and set me up for this unfolding journey of getting back to my authentic self. So if you feel stagnant and stuck never stop questioning because as I recently heard it put beautifully by Noel Strane – the quality of your life depends on the quality of the questions you ask.
To finish, think about when you fall for someone, you would do anything to make them happy. When you’ve lost your way though it’s a sign to say start falling for yourself and do whatever it takes to make yourself happy. Dig deep and save yourself, because whilst Angels watch in the wings, they’re cheering you on every time you take that step for yourself, each time you break a norm, put up a boundary however small, and each time you do what you want and exert your will because you know it’s true to you.