As far back as I can remember, my mother has attempted to control the course of my life by reprimanding every attempt at individuality. My mother wanted me to learn piano whereas I wanted to learn to play the violin, and I was not allowed to learn any instrument if I did not learn piano. When I was 17, my entire future was mapped out for me in terms of college major, future spouse, and how many children I would bear. My childhood, and even young adulthood, is marked by intense arguments over how I was to live my life, as my life was a reflection of the people around me. This battle for my future required more recruits, as my other family members, employers, and academic advisors joined over time.
I find my entire past is blotted in these battles where the struggle for my essence escalated to screaming matches. Oddly enough, I feel more disappointment when I look back on the moments where the struggle did not escalate, as I simply gave into the others’ desire and set my own aside. I recall the realization my calling in life had nothing to do with Chemical Engineering causing me to request a change in major with the dean of the engineering college at my university.
“That’s a great idea if you want to never have a job.”
I guess you could say tact was not her specialty, but she was no less efficient. Within moments, she expediently enrolled me in a different specialty of engineering. I was compelled to believe her without any other proof of her claim. In fact, I knew the opposite to be true beyond a doubt, as I was already employed in the field I attempted to choose. I reluctantly took her advice and enrolled the following semester with her class recommendations only to promptly fail out of college for lack of interest. Had I remained true to my own inclinations, I would have prevented an enormous derailment in my career.
But is that true?
The most difficult thing I learned in this life was how to drown out the expectations and demands of others. After submitting for so long, I found it not only difficult but impossible to hear the voice from inside. As a result, I toiled and sleepwalked many years through mediocre jobs with mediocre salaries and mediocre fulfillment, as that voice was seemingly nonexistent.
But is that true?
Although, every command from another person as to what I should do turned out to be incorrect, I doubted myself throughout the journey to finding my own passion. I surmised this internal struggle as a waste of precious time that stretched out for a decade or more, but I’m not so sure. Throughout the years, I found myself in several different positions where time would stretch out into infinity as if I was moving towards a black hole. Other times, I lost all sense of time. Life experience taught me things a formal education never could. I was educated in self-discipline, self-sacrifice, and persistence. I somehow managed to find my life’s passion no matter where I went assisting me until I could fully actualize it. I look behind me, and it all makes so much sense. While the inner voice sank deep down, it did not leave. It spoke subtly through attention span, as some things did not make me feel I was studying or practicing at all. In fact, I felt joy that did not require recognition from any outside force. It all seems to snap in place like a puzzle.
I am precisely where I am supposed to be.