I'm turning 26 in July and although it is far from being considered "old", a part of me wishes I could turn back time to when I first knew I wanted to travel. I would shut out all the outside voices that constantly pushed me on the path THEY wanted for me, and instead, make my own path.
Right now, I'm TRYING to save enough money for one year of travel, but the first step is getting out of debt... I am currently swimming in it because younger me wasn't so wise with credit cards and spending.
How easy would it be if current me could go back in time and warn 20 year old me: "Nursing? Yeah, no.. It isn't your passion. Pursue photography instead, and keep practicing. Get a job and save as much of that money as you can because when you're 26, imagine how much you'll have to travel! Stop spending on dumb crap just because it makes you look cool or because everyone else has it. And you see this belly fat? Lay off the hot pockets, bro."
But life doesn't work like that. The past cannot be changed, but the future can, so I'm working on today, tomorrow, and the rest of my life in finally doing what makes me happy. Another thing I can do is inspire others to do the same, whether you're 18 years old, 26, 50, or beyond... Do it NOW, and don't wait for the perfect time or for anyone else's approval.
When I say not to live for others, it doesn't mean to shut everyone's opinions out completely. One thing I've learned this past year is that having good people in your life is important, and you should most definitely listen and consider what they have to say, BUT don't let their words of doubt or the path THEY have set for YOU take your eyes off YOUR vision. If you're passionate about something and if that passion is constantly on your mind, why would you let something like that go to settle for something safe and comfortable, but doesn't make you happy?
Family is everything to me and I love my parents to death, but the decision to follow my own dreams and do what I love has given me the freedom and happiness I've wanted for a long time. There are so many experiences I would have missed out on if I always listened when someone told me I couldn't do something.
Family members and close friends have judged and doubted a lot of decisions I made to better myself, work towards my goals, or new things I wanted to try... I get laughed at when I try to make a healthier decision by choosing a salad over a burger. I get weird looks when I tell people I want to go on dangerous and epic hiking trips. The first thing my aunts and uncles say when I tell them I want to be a travelling photographer is, "Go back to school."
Little do they know that the plans I have for myself are much, much better than the ones they expect of me.
So why should you follow your dreams and not live for others?
1. They'll judge you anyway, whether it's a good decision you're making for yourself or a bad one, there will be someone you care about that will doubt your efforts. When you choose a healthier option off the menu or tell someone you want to be an astronaut, they might laugh because they can't see the results right away, but one day you'll prove them wrong. One day they'll see how much weight you lost, or they'll congratulate you for the job you got at NASA. Passion and hard work will get you far, as long as you stick with it.
2. Eventually, they'll completely forget you went against their advice. Okay, maybe this doesn't apply to everyone, but it sure did with my parents. Nursing is totally out of the question now and they see that I love to adventure, go hiking, plan trips, take photos, etc. And if I'm able to make a career out of it, they would totally support me. They even join in on a lot of my adventures. If you can prove them wrong and show them how passionate you are about your dream, they will support you, eventually.
3. You'll regret it later on in life. Sure, living for others and making them happy will make you happy for a while, but eventually you'll be walking down their path and you'll catch a glimpse of your own from a far, far distance and you'll wish you followed it in the first place. My biggest fear is being on my death bed and wishing I had done life differently, which is why I'm known to just do what I want a lot of the time, even when people tell me no. Like I said earlier in this post, I wish I started working on my dream when I was younger, but hey I didn't know any better. Regret is one of the worst feelings. Work towards your dream right now.
4. You only have one life, just do what makes you happy. This is YOUR life, and you should make it count by doing what makes you feel alive. The time is passing anyway so you might as well put your energy into your passion. You weren't born to pay bills and die. How many inspirational quotes do I have to pack in one paragraph?! Life is short. Period.