For as long as I can remember, I've always tried to be an obedient son and a good member of society.
The pressure of doing well and following a standard route to life was so engraved in me that I feared trying something new.
What would my family and the people around me think if I did this?
This question usually popped up in my head whenever I tried to go off route from the well-known path to a life that society has created for us.
And that led to putting my wishes in the backseat and going with the flow.
When I listened to this new song from Spencer Crandall called 7 and 70, it hit me deeply.
What struck me first was this line:
I've been a people pleaser. Never putting me first.
For most of my youth, I've always tried to fit in.
Maybe because fitting in was easier than standing out, or I lacked the courage to say no to others and do what I wanted.
You might've been in the same boat.
Times when you wanted to take the road less taken but ended up following the crowd instead.
Why do we suppress our wishes and tend to go with the herd?
Because we place far too much importance on others' opinions than we should.
Here's a trivial example of this:
For years, I wanted to dye my hair.
But, I've always held back that thought because I feared people would make fun of my new hair colour.
Or that I would look weird.
And then, finally, in around 2017, I did it. I dyed my hair burgundy.
I wouldn't say I liked the new look, and yes, people did make fun of me, but the experience left me with two things:
- I scratched a long-standing itch
- I had a boost in confidence to dial down the noise around me and follow my inner voice
It might not work out every time, but at least I get to try my instincts.
And that brings us to another line in the song that holds up for everyone:
There's only two opinions that matter most to me. And that's me at 7 and 70.
We're often bombarded with unsolicited opinions from the people around us.
If we try to accommodate every external opinion about how to live life, we'll end up burying our own and living an artificial life.
Life would almost be like roleplaying a character different from you.
Don't give away the driver's seat of your life to someone else.
Have the confidence and courage to follow the path that the 7-year-old you dreamed of.
And take actions that the 70-year-old you will appreciate and feel proud of.
Ever since I showed interest in computer science, close relatives have tried to push me down the templated path of a software engineer in India.
Graduate from an engineering college, get a job at a multinational company, go for an MBA, and become a manager.
Although I always wanted to be a software engineer, I had slightly different plans.
I didn't and still don't want to be a manager. I want to spend time learning and tinkering with the tech around us.
And to this day, I'm thankful that I deviated from this supposedly set path and instead worked at various tech startups that helped forge my engineering career and mindset.
Have a concise list of people whose opinions directly impact you and can alter the course of your life.
The tighter the list, the less time you'll spend thinking about others and more time crafting a life of intention.
Live a life that the 7 and 70-year-old you will feel proud of and cherish.