The very fact that you're reading this sets you apart from 90% of people in the first world.
And you've probably felt it, too.
If you've ever wanted to go out on your own, build something that matters, take an unconventional approach to careers and work. If you've ever not only decided that not only was working in a job you didn't love wasn't for you, but you also acted on that notion, you probably know what I mean.
If you've ever had a conversation with somebody about it or took a step toward living the lifestyle you've always dreamed of, you probably understand it:
The Pain of Being Different.
In February, I left my contract to travel and build my business full-time.
And at first, it was empowering. I was travelling through Southern Europe, and anytime you're travelling, the people you meet along the way are the types of people who choose to live unconventionally.
So if we were ever asked what we do, the asker wasn't perplexed or confused by our occupations.
The pain didn't start to feel real until I was back in Canada.
Jason and I were at a good friend's birthday party and one of their friends asked what I did for a living. I haven't perfected how I answer this just yet, so I told her that I am a professional blogger, and I was met with a blank stare. She then asked me what I do “for work”.
At the time, I felt so stupid.
I kept thinking about how ridiculous it seemed. Like, am I weird or stupid for wanting to blaze my own path? Why don't I just go to work full-time like normal people?
It disturbed me so much, in fact, that I flirted with the idea of applying for a full-time job again in Human Resources – not out of the desire to work full-time, but because I felt crazy for doing what I'm doing.
Anytime you're breaking away from the herd and doing something different, there will be people that don't “get” you.
And sometimes, those people will surprise you. In my situation, the person was a friend of a friend, so they don't really matter to me. But in your situation it may be somebody close to you, and that can really take the wind out of your sails.
So I'm writing this in the hopes that you recognise that naturally there will be people who won't support you.
That's because you're living an unconventional life.
6 Reasons You Won't Always Be Supported by The People Around You
“Don't you find it odd…that when you're a kid, everyone, all the world, encourages you to follow your dreams. But when you're older, somehow they act offended if you even try.” – Ethan Hawke.
It's perplexing at first.
When you have the first person express doubt that you'll make it, it can make you doubt everything you've built up until now. The doubt and confusion do not become easier to handle, but I find that knowing where they are coming is helpful.
- Sometimes, it's that the naysayer is old school. They genuinely believe the only way to make a living is to go to work full time, punch in your time, and have fun on weekends. Be grateful you're employable. Dreams and passions make hobbies, not careers.
- Sometimes, they don't know what's possible, so they're genuinely concerned for you. These people mean well and are just concerned out of well-meaning ignorance.
- Sometimes, they're living in fear. And, they're projecting their fears onto you. We've all been there. We've all been fearful and scared. Just know that it's not about you. They don't believe in themselves – they don't believe they could do what you're doing.
- Sometimes, they think you're judging them. When we meet somebody who is doing things differently, sometimes we are scared that they're judging us for not doing the same.
- Sometimes, it's just human nature. We live in a world where being different is celebrated only after the person achieves fame or notoriety. Think about it: musicians are considered starving artists and dreamers (and often people who lack ambition) until they land their first record deal.
- Sometimes, they're just crabs in a bucket. Have you heard of this before? When you put a bunch of crabs in a bucket, even though they're all grasping for freedom, when one starts to scale the walls of the bucket and comes close to freeing itself, the other crabs pull it back down into the bucket. In human terms, nobody likes to see somebody do what they love and follow their passions because they want you to be in the same boat as them. We want commiseration.
No matter where the person is coming from, they aren't bad people. They're just human. So you need to take matters into your own hands.
Build Your Own Normal
Most people will never achieve their dreams. Most people will chalk it up to “job security” (as if that's a thing) and spend the rest of their lives pushing paper all day long and leaving at the end of the day straight into the arms of a commute.
Which is fine for “most people”.
But you're not “most people”.
You're unconventional. You want to do things differently. You want to achieve flexibility and freedom in your career.
So you need to build your own normal.
Stop asking permission from the well-meaning people around you to live the life you want to live. Don't ditch those people – they still love you – but find your own tribe.
Actually, build your own tribe.
You've heard the saying “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. You know it's true, too. That may sound like bad news if you don't have any entrepreneurial friends or your family members are all nay-sayers.
But you don't have to be in the same city. Studies have found that if your best friend is obese, you are 57% more likely to be obese as well. Even if your best friend lives hundreds of miles away.
Think about the power of the internet with those statistics in building your own normal and creating your own tribe.
I'm the outlier with most of my family and friends. I love them dearly, but most of them have the 9-5 mentality, putting in their time and travelling only during the time they manage to wrestle away from the office.
With those odds, I should be climbing into my car for a forty-minute commute every day, right? I should probably be resenting my job, booking an all-inclusive for January every year and waking up Monday groaning and wishing it were Saturday.
But I'm not. I wake up Saturday wishing it were Monday. I take a trip when I want – for however long I want. I commute so little that going for a drive is a treat. And if I do have a commute? It's because the opportunity excited me enough that I couldn't say no.
And rather than resent my job? I love my job. Because I built my job.
Initially, the 5 people I spent the most time with in person weren't seeing eye-to-eye with me, and I began spending time with people who did.
Sure, it was online. And at the beginning, those people didn't even know my name or that I existed. But every time I read a blog post by Jeff Goins or turned on my podcast app to listen in to Louis Howes, I was spending time with them. And eventually, my normal became these amazing people who are doing what they love.
And I stopped spending time with complainers on Twitter. I stopped watching reality TV and I systematically went through my Facebook accounts and blog subscriptions and unfriended anybody who didn't empower me.
So the choice is yours.
Will you make your own normal?
Or will you continue to ask permission to build your dream?
It's up to you.