How would you feel if I told you, I think you don’t live the life you should? Or you are making a mistake by not travelling? Or you would be happier living like me? You would probably feel attacked, offended, annoyed…
This is exactly how I feel when someone tells me I’m irresponsible, or that I’m wasting time, money, or my life. No one but me knows what’s right for me.
Right and wrong
This is a concept I don’t believe in. What’s right for you, could be wrong for me. And I can’t believe I’m about to defend something I completely disagree with, but I learnt to not judge before I can understand the other side of the story. The coin always has two sides.
Cheating on your partner. Right or wrong? What do you think? Wrong? Most of us would probably say it is wrong. But first of all, what is cheating? Texting? Kissing? Sex? Emotions? Looking at photos of someone else? Porn? How many different ways would cheating be explained?
The problem comes from not having the same opinions, values and ideas. I cheated before and I was cheated on. So I learnt about both sides and I decided not to cheat again, because it felt wrong. I felt wrong. I won’t cheat again because of myself, not because the other person deserves to be faithful to. But what if my partner doesn’t feel the same way? What if he comes from poor family support, baggage and no values whatsoever? What if this person doesn’t understand that cheating is wrong?
Because it is not wrong. It is wrong for me. But in his world, maybe it is fine as long as he loves me and comes home to me every night. I would still feel betrayed, angry and sad, but I would also understand the difference between our thinking and feelings. It is my own damn responsibility to choose well. If I stay in a relationship where I feel suppressed, disrespected and not listened to, it is my own damn fault! I let him treat me bad, I let him hurt me and yet I stay, I hope, I love, I trust while he is no good. He hasn’t done the inner work yet.
Why do we hope it will change? Fear. You are afraid of being alone, that the breakup will be a mistake, you would have missed out on a love that could have been great when he changed? How often did he really change? You forget to prioritize the most important thing, your own happiness.
A part of me understands where things go wrong, because I understand the difference in people and their upbringing, but a part of me will always despise you for not sorting your problems out and not trying to become a better person. I will never judge you, but I won’t stick around to hold your hand either.
Why my way is the only way
How many times do people try to convince you about their opinion? “That’s not right, you will make a mistake if you don’t follow my advice.” Or “ I think you should change, do this, do that…” They could easily defend themselves by saying; everyone is entitled to their opinion. And that is true, but there is a place and time for that. If the opinion was not asked for, why give it? It will not be welcomed and we make as ass of ourselves. If the opinion is not based on personal knowledge or experience, why give it? We will not come across credible, but just a follower who repeats something he heard from a friend, or read online.
You should travel more
No, you should not, if that’s not what you want. Travelling is a wonderful way to explore the impossible, but I see people being very happy with their career, family and vacation 2-3 times a year. So who the hell am I to tell people how they should, or should not live their lives? Only you know what’s best and right for you.
Unless it is asked for, I never use the term “should”. It’s too judgmental, too vague, and too none-of-my-business-how-you-live-your-life. You know it better than anyone what’s best for you. I found people who use “should” with me are the ones I least listen to. Unless it is a practical advice, like “you should read about the attachment types in psychology, I think it would interest you.” I know who I want to remind me of a reality check, those who I look up to and trust. They are the only qualified people to non-judgmentally give me verbal slaps to open my eyes.
Is my opinion really mine?
I always have an opinion, but before it was really hard to identify where it came from. Primarily it came from my family, friends and TV. Then it came from the Internet. And now it mostly comes from personal experience, online research, listening to, and learning from others.
This is exactly why it is hard for me to listen to someone, who does not have a personal experience with the chosen topic. When everyone told me hitchhiking is dangerous, I asked; have you tried? Latin America is dangerous, have you been there? Travelling alone is dangerous, have you done it?
Once I opened the door to new experiences, regardless of the level of danger, I found that most of my worries were planted in my head by people, who had no idea what they were talking about. We only hear the negativity from TV and newspaper, because the title “2000 hitchhikers made it safe today to their destination” would be a boring article, not newsworthy.
The best example for just how misleading the media could be was in 2015, when my travel mate Suzy was about to hitchhike with me to Budapest from Nice. First time in Eastern Europe and it was migrant crisis at the time. Suzy’s family was worried, they told her to be very careful as it looks like a warzone in Hungary. And I had no idea what they were talking about, because when I was home, apart from near the train stations, I didn’t even notice we had migrant crisis. But in her family’s mind it was a circus.
Imagine that we paint this picture of nearly everything, building fears and prejudice, forming non-credible opinions. Try before you judge. If you don’t want to try, don’t judge.
Decisions need to be thought through
Eeee…don’t think so. So many of us make a life changing decision in less than a heartbeat, but take hours choosing between two shirts. I learnt not to waste time and mental decision-making power on useless things. My gut tells me usually what to do and my rational mind sometimes wins, so I end up feeling regret as my gut doesn’t stop telling me what I should have done just because my mind decided otherwise.
How do you argue about gut feelings? When I quit my well paying prestigious job as flight attendant, left my beautiful home with a pool and parrots in my garden, in an amazing country like Spain just to be homeless and jobless in Belgium, people thought I lost my mind. And I could not explain why I did that, I just felt it. I tried to rationalize this decision so people can understand but despite my biggest efforts, they did not. Until I got another job I could brag about. Then I left that too, and this kept happening until I stopped working for others and started working for myself.
And this is the only time when I can finally rationalize it to everyone. I learnt, experienced and challenged myself to get ready for the biggest challenge, to become my own boss. Maybe this way you will accept it too, but to tell you the truth, I had no idea why I left these jobs, I had no idea where I was going and what I wanted to achieve. I had no plans, no expectations, just my gut telling me to move on, so I did and now it is telling me to stop quitting and start working hard.
So when you see someone making a bad decision, it could be that it looks bad only for you, because you would not do the same. But how do you know that person is not making the best decision of her life? Every decision is a good decision, because most often you can’t go back and change it. You have to live with it. So embrace it, make the most of it, it is yours.
There will always be 1000 reasons for why not to do something, but you only need one reason to ignore the other 1000.
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