When Everyone Is Telling You Something Different

I’m going to be honest. I have no idea who you are, you out there in the bubble of the Internet. You could be a baby. (I have seen young parents throw iPads at their children so I wouldn’t be surprised.) You could possibly be 90 years old. You might even be a cat (they rule the Internet, after all.) But I do know one thing: You’ve probably, at some time in your life, had multiple people telling you different things at once.

“Really?” you ask. “People do that?” Yes, really. They do. “People have different opinions?” It comes as a complete surprise. People will tell you different things based on what they believe: where they’re at in life, their experiences, their beliefs.

For example, a wife who has been married for 35 years is going to have a different view on marriage than a single 21-year-old dude. A Fortune-500 CEO is going to have something different to say about success than a homeless man. It’s the world we live in, y’know. People are different (shocker.)

Everyone has a time in their life when they’re trying to make a decision, but it seems like everyone is telling them to do something different. I (like most people) have had to make big decisions before. Of course my parents are going to tell me something different than my friends. Of course my professors is going to tell me something different than my roommate.

“Follow your dreams! Do what you love to do!” says one person.

“Do something practical. Sometimes your passions don’t pay the bills.” says another.

“Marry someone who’s absolutely perfect, your Prince Charming!” someone tells you.

“No one is a Prince Charming. Don’t set your standards too high.” says someone else.

The question is: Who do you listen to? Or, rather: Who is right?

There’s literally no clear-cut answer to this question. Because it’s up to you. I’m not telling you to “follow your heart,” because that’s stupid. It seriously is. Your heart will get you into more trouble than you think. But also don’t completely disregard your heart. Just make sure your brain is involved in there too.

In order to answer a question like that, you have to ask, “What do I know to be true in this situation, in this context that I’m in?” What are your beliefs and how do they line up in the decision you’re making? If you’re thinking about your career, what does following your dream look like? How does it line up with how you’ve been raised, what you’ve come to believe in? You will eventually have to ask yourself if it’s rational or not, but dream on. Shape your dreams based on your situation. Want to be a musician? Get a desk job and offer lessons on the side. Keep honing your craft. It’s not “practical” until it is. Want a “Prince Charming” to come in to your life? Just keep working on yourself, pursuing your passions. Chances are there’s someone out there who shares those passions.

(I know both of these above things are easier said than done. I’m feebly trying to make a point at 12:45am because my brain wouldn’t let me do anything else.)

This all might sound like midnight ramblings (which is exactly what it is), but I hope it strikes a chord with someone out there. I may have just made you more confused about everything (“Oh great, ANOTHER person telling me something ELSE.”) I hope I haven’t. I just know that it can cause a lot of anxiety when it seems like everyone is telling you something different and you don’t know who you should believe – because what if you make the wrong decision? You can feel your blood pressure rising already, can’t you? And this is all hypothetical. It’s scary. It’s stressful. But making decisions is part of life.

So listen to the people around you. Digest what they’re telling you. But you make the final decision. You are looking at the world through your own lens, however you have tinted it. And if you feel like you’ve taken a wrong turn, don’t stress out. Take a deep breath, put your hands back on the wheel, and try again. And keep trying. And don’t stop until you have nothing left to give.

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