How Society and Expectations Can Stop Us Living the Life of Our Dreams
Updated: Sep 13
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,” Steve Jobs.
I read this quote from Steve Jobs and it brings me back to the thought of dreams in childhood and how we’re often steered away from our dreams and joys. It’s easy to follow convention and follow what we’re told is the best thing for us. It’s a harder path to challenge convention and follow what feels true to your authentic Self.
What happened to our childhood dreams?
If we were nurtured and guided to our strengths and passions earlier, is it true to say that we could already be living the life of our dreams?
What did you dream of doing or being when you were a child? Do you even remember and are you doing it? When did it change?
Family and societal expectations
Our path in life is often driven by the expectations of our family, society and our community. I would often question how a 16- or 18-year-old can make a decision that will impact the rest of their life, when they’ve spent the same amount of time abiding by the expectations, which turn into obligations of their family and community.
At which point were we guided to learn who we are and to explore our needs and passions so that we may be able to live the life of our dreams? Instead, we guide our children into a path that we’ve been obligated to follow because it’s deemed worthy and of value by our peers, society and our families.
Following the status quo
How true is it that many of us follow a path perhaps because we’re unsure of who we are and haven’t even had a chance to explore and therefore end up falling into family obligations or societal expectations without consciously choosing? At which point, after over 16, 18, 20 years of conditioning, we might actually really believe that this is the path that’s right for us as we’ve developed a belief over time that we’ve chosen it instead of being subconsciously driven to it by others?
If we were nurtured, guided and given the space to explore our strengths and passions earlier in life – is it true to say that more of us could be living the life of our dreams?
It’s easy to get swept up into the ‘shoulds’ of life when you’re impressionable and are seeking guidance from role models. “You should do this… you should study law, practice medicine, be a teacher…” What if we followed the protocol of what was expected of us, but actually we’re unhappy in that chosen path? And I say ‘chosen’ lightly.
Are you really making a choice?
What if I’m 16 and have to make a decision to study subjects or go into a work placement and I’m not sure what I’m passionate about or interested in? Then, at 18, I have to decide on a 3-5 year course in higher education that will set the path for my whole career. There’s an expectation from society and our community and family that at 16, we’ll choose the ‘right’ subjects to carry us through a couple of years, then at 18 we’ll choose the right course to carry us through the next 3-5years.
By this point, we’ve spent so much time on said subject or course that we force ourselves into that career path or end up doing something completely different. So, what was the point of all the pressure at 16 or 18?
Following our true path
Do you ever stop and think, or dream about what you wish your doing instead of what you’re currently doing? Society expects that you’ll get a job, a house, a car, marry and have children, earn more etc… have you ever stopped as an adult to ask your Self – “What is it that I want?”
Taking ownership of our path
And whilst I value the guidance and teachings of our elders… when we become adults ourselves, it’s time for us to take ownership of our own path and take actions and steps to live the life of our dreams. Because, even if we didn’t know at 16, 18 or 21, now - as adults, we have enough life experience to consciously learn who we are so that we can create a life that suits us as individuals, instead of fulfilling the requirements society, family and our community has placed on us over the years.
If you want to start living the life you secretly dream about – here are five top tips for how to start:
Identify your strengths and weaknesses
Learn what you’re passionate about or interested in (you’ll have a feeling in your gut, which you may mistake for fear)
Make an action plan to get out of your current 9-5
Take action each day or week
Listen to what you need and give it to your Self
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