Life, a strange place we are always trying to define and find our way through. We are always confronted with choices. A choice of following the norm or a creating your own path. The choice of doing what is “right” or to rebel. The choice of speaking the truth or hiding behind lies. The choice of being authentic or people pleasing. The choice of love or fear. The choice of standing in limbo or taking life by the horns. The beautiful part is, it is our choice.
It has been three and a half years since I have graduate college and looking back, these have been the most challenging years I have had to face. When we go through college, everyone prepares you to get a job, get married, and to start a family. But, no one prepares you to actually be on your own, to lift yourself up when you have fallen on your face, and to actually figure your sh*t out (pardon my french). For the first time in my life I was actually free. And while I have always held freedom as one of my most important values, until recently, I did not know what it meant.
Our whole lives we are told we are free to do what we want, to believe what we choose, and to become who we desire to become. However, we always have people telling us who to be, how to be, and what to believe. We have our parents telling us what is right and wrong, our teachers telling us what to learn, and the system telling us who to become. The rebels, goths, ones who are different, are cast to the side and labeled “weird, bad, ugly, or potentially dangerous.” The ones who conform, stay in line, do what people like and want them to do are labeled as “good kids, suck ups, people-pleasers, going places in life.” But, when does what we want or believe actually come into the picture?
I have been the suck up and people pleaser. I have been the rebel and nonconformist. I have been told to “go and find a real job” or “you don’t understand the real world” and “I wish I could live my life like you.” I am here to tell you, I think I do understand the real world.
What is the real world anyway? Is it the nice cars, nice houses, “perfect” families, married by 24, kids by 30, and a real job when you get out of college that pays you enough money for you to continue to buy things you can’t afford? Is it keeping up with the Jones’s, getting a retirement fund, buying a house (or two), and donating your offering to the church each Sunday?
What I have realized, is that since the beginning, we have been brainwashed into thinking this type of lifestyle is for everyone in the U.S. These type of stigmas have us handcuffed and take away our choices rather empower us to choose the life we want to live. We forget that we are free to learn, to create, to dream, to imagine. But, once we graduate, we realize that we do now have a choice. Many graduates, like myself, fall straight on our faces. We stop dead in our tracks and look around us as we stand alone, saying, “Hello? Is anyone there? What am I supposed to do now?” We wait for the answer that never comes. And this doesn’t just happen to graduates, many people spend the rest of their lives waiting for that answer. Many people just stand there and keep busy as they wait for the answer to come. For some, it does. For some, they are still waiting, For others, they choose.
This past April, I was faced with a choice. Do I continue the life that made me feel alive, fulfilled, and joyful? Or do I listen to those nay-sayers, realists, and fear who try and take away my dream?
I had a choice; stay in Peru or fly home. I chose to stay. I chose to stay because for the first time in my life, I did something for me. In July, I went home to make more money to return. And now, here I am back in Peru less than six months later. It hasn’t been easy, the road has been rocky, but I have found strength in myself. And no matter, what, that strength will make it all worth it.
Normal life has a different definition for everyone. And the sad part is, normal usually means settling, boring, and unfulfilled. However, everything is a choice. If there is something you don’t like in your life, you always have the choice to change it. As you get older and settle down, things become more complicated and complex, but nothing is impossible. Throw away the word “can’t.” If you CHOOSE not to do something, it is because you choose that.
In each moment, we have the freedom to determine our life. Some of us choose to give up this freedom because it is scary. And it truly is. But, when we are scared, we are alive, we are vulnerable, and we can prove our power and our strength. We are all empowered to create the life we have always wanted and the life we dream. We all have the freedom. So, choose, jump, and enjoy:)