It’s impossible to please everyone. There have been times in my life when I’ve disappointed the people I love. And now I’m about to do it again. Disappointing people is inevitable because unfortunately the perfect compromises don’t always exist. So where do we draw the line between living our own lives versus living our lives for others?
At age 18, I cut the umbilical cord with my family. I moved off to college and have been on my own ever since, living a pretty unconventional life. And I’ve been pretty selfish. When I use the word selfish, I don’t mean it in a malicious way—I define it as putting myself first. Trust me, being selfish isn’t as easy as it sounds for someone as sensitive as I am.
Even before leaving home and officially becoming independent, I made all of my own decisions regarding college choices and what I wanted to be when I grew up. No one could stop me from becoming a doctor, and so I did.
When I discovered my love for traveling, no one could stop me from touching every continent except Antarctica by the time I was 26 and from filling my entire passport book by the age of 27. Indeed I was a full time student, and the thirst to travel was so strong that I waitressed and tutored to support my habit. I missed holidays at home to enjoy them abroad, experiencing new places and different cultures. Of course my family was upset, but I insisted I needed to travel to grow and unwind from the stressful schedule and sacrifices of becoming a doctor.
I was once in a nine-year relationship. He was my best friend, my family, and the only love I had ever known. When I was 21 we reach a defining point—without me knowing he had purchased an engagement ring and was ready to start a life in suburbia with me. I, on the other hand, enjoyed living in New York City and was ready to see the world. After ending the relationship, it hurt my heart when I found out about the unfulfilled proposal, but I knew it wasn’t time for marriage or kids just yet. Yes, he was a safe choice for love, but we wanted different lives and so I had to disappoint the first man I ever loved. And to think how different my life would have been if I had chosen to stay for the sake of fond memories, security, and all the time invested.
When I chose to leave western medicine, my family was disappointed. They couldn’t understand how I could invest all that time and money while sacrificing so much to just give it up. They wanted me to have the security a doctor career brings, but I wasn’t happy. I knew there was a path another path to live out my purpose and passion, and so I chose to listen to my heart despite all those who disagreed. There were moments my family wasn’t emotionally supportive and I felt completely alone, yet I persevered and they have come around. It warms my heart when they tell me how proud they are because they see how my work inspires others beyond what having an office writing prescriptions might have done.
And now I find myself in another one of these situations—I am disappointing my sister. In order to follow my dreams, I can’t attend some of her major life events. It hurts my heart that I’m not able to be there for her in a way she expects. I’ve cried about it, but I know I have to live my life. Although my intention was never to hurt anyone’s feelings, I’ve disappointed other family and friends by not being able to attend every important event or gathering.
My intention is to be authentic to myself and to others, while still being compassionate. The latter part has been most challenging despite how hard I’ve tried, because no matter how carefully I choose my words and explanations, it’s very easy to hurt the ones we love. They hurt because they care.
To be happy in life and to live from the heart comes with disappointing others. It’s inevitable. And even when I’ve tried my best to please everyone by sacrificing what makes me happy, I’ve still disappointed others. It’s wonderful when there is a perfect compromise, but that’s not always the case.
And so I’ve chosen to do me. Yes, at times it can be tough, but I’ve never regretted any of my life decisions. If I chose to stay put for the sake of others and not have taken leaps of faith into the unknown, there’s no way I would have been able to do, see, and experience all the wonders of the world.
We only get one chance at this life, so make it count—follow your dreams, follow your heart, stay true to yourself, and live to the fullest.