To focus on pleasing others typically means you’ve placed what’s important to you on the back burner. This translates into the fact that it’s vital for you that others admire your work. You get more of a charge out of the reaction of others than of doing work that ignites your soul.

I was once that person. Others around me rose and were being respected for their work. I faded into the backdrop of their success. I’m embarrassed to admit this. Yet, I feel this admission is an important step in my growth. Looking back on mistakes is a great way to not make them again. Additionally, analyzing why we do the things we do can help us push past obstacles that darken our path.

For the longest time, I believed I wasn’t worthy of the things others in my life had. They worked harder for them than me. While they studied science, math and computers, I dove into the arts. They solved complex problems and saved lives. I played with colors and words. Furthermore, they added value through tangible results. Well, my work oftentimes displayed as a fleeting emotion in someone’s subconsciousness.

Pleasing others leads to false assumptions

I made false assumptions about the value of one’s work based on the level of education or application to  real-world situations. This caused me to look at my artistic approach to life as something unnecessary in the grand scale of life. In other words, I spent many of my younger years comparing my work to others.

I viewed my love for art over my disinterest in mathematical and scientific endeavors as a serious problem.

I wanted to be taken seriously. You see, I didn’t enjoy being viewed as someone who took the easy way out and expected great results. Not that I tried to take the easy way out. I simply followed the path that called my heart into being. But, twenty years ago, green to adulthood, I didn’t realize that following my true calling should result in ending up on a path that felt completely natural. Something that came so easy must be wrong. 

So, you know what I did? I got off my true calling path and tried my hand at the tough road. I had something to prove. So, I decided that I could study math and science and be successful.

My gosh, did I crave the attention of others. I put their view of me above my own happiness. When I finally got their respect, I would derive joy. That’s the most embarrassing part. 

If it doesn’t fit, stop trying to force it.

In trying to please others, I spent several years forcing myself into the finance world. By understanding the financial markets lingo, I gained respect from those I admired. I could talk a good talk about buying and selling options and retirement plans. But, I hated it. I’d drive to work with a gnaw in my gut, desperate to finish my work day before it even began. I tortured myself. 

You see, my catalyst in going into finance came from a moment in time that crushed me. It stemmed from one sentence spoken from someone I admired. We were speaking about the success of someone close to us, and how she deserved that success because she didn’t take the easy way out. She worked hard for it. In my mind, I felt this meant that my pursuing a career in the arts wasn’t worthy enough for such success. It came too easy to me. I hadn’t applied myself enough. If I wanted to be successful in this person’s eyes, I would have to prove myself. I’d have to stop playing in artistic tones and start hard balling it in the real world.

The competitor in me awakened, and suddenly, I needed more.

I felt inclined to prove myself worthy of such accolades, too. So, I enrolled in college and studied my butt off, taking science classes like they were basket weaving. I struggled, but I maintained good grades. Because I had something to prove, I forced my way through chemistry, botany, zoology, and finally finance.

I was miserable, forcing myself into a life I didn’t want.

So, why did I do this to myself? To prove to the naysayers that I was worthy? I’m embarrassed to say yes.  And, in the end, what did I prove? I proved I was fully capable of second-guessing myself and tossing away gifts like they were gum wrappers.

Beyond a Challenge

I’m all for challenging oneself. But, this went beyond challenging. This landed in the dreaded territory of dull.

In my pursuit to pleasing others, I lost myself. I defined my success in terms of someone else’s perspective. That became apparent one day when I found myself throwing up on the side of the road while commuting to work. The Monday morning blues had sailed in and I would rather have died than have to go into that building and talk numbers all day.

After realizing I was on the wrong road, I eventually readjusted! I left the finance world and opted for something more creative. I’m an artist, and artists are happiest when creating. I wanted to pursue an education that would complement my artistic tendencies. So, I gravitated towards writing and graphic design.

Discovery Phase

As I began writing, I discovered myself again.

Writing allows me to explore the world in many ways! Through it, I’ve discovered the incredible world of novel writing, podcasting, blogging and digital storytelling. 

We’re all meant for something great in this life. The best way to honor that gift is to not ignore that which you love to do for the sake of pleasing others. I believe it’s good to challenge yourself as long as it’s in alignment with your life purpose.Follow your heart and do with your day those things that make your heart sing.