from the blog

The $100,000 Mistake

I’ve been thinking lately about times I didn’t follow my heart.  About times I could hear a voice inside telling me something wasn’t right, but I chose to overlook it.  Many times I chose instead to make other people comfortable, or to meet other people’s expectations (and to ignore my own), to make other people happy and to fight through things I didn’t want in order to do that.

For instance, I went to law school because my mom had wanted to be a lawyer.  I didn’t realize this at the time.  I thought I wanted to go to law school.  But then I got there and – WOAH- it was not what I expected.  It turned out not to be all about justice and making the world a better place, as I had thought it would be.  In fact, you really have to go against the grain of law school to do these things.  I realized this early on and wanted out.  I told my mother this.  And she told me that she thought I’d regret it if I left.  

I was so miserable in law school that I started dreaming of opening a sandwich shop instead.  But I listened to my mother’s voice rather than my own and stayed in law school.  I incurred $100,000 more debt than I already had.  And I pushed along through all three years of law school and then five years of practicing law.  

Did you hear that?  I spent $100,000 and eight years of my life because I wouldn’t listen to the voice inside of me telling me what was right.  That is a heavy price to pay.

I wonder how many times I’ve done this and how much more I’ve sacrificed because I wanted to make people happy rather than forge ahead with what I knew inside of me.  Something withers inside of us when we do this.  And it’s something more valuable than money.  

In the years since I stopped practicing law I’ve tried to get better at listening to my own heart.  To get quiet and hear the voice inside.  Even when I can hear it, sometimes it feels tempting to override it to make other people happy.  But each time we listen to our heart and are willing to follow its dictates, the voice inside gets a little bit stronger and easier to hear.  It likes knowing that you can hear it and that you will listen to it, and it gets braver.

Do you listen to the voice inside and follow what it tells you?  Do you ever ignore the voice to make other people comfortable?  Do you discount what your heart is telling you because it’s easier to be liked and accepted by others?  Have you learned the hard way that it is a mistake to ignore the voice inside?  I’d love to hear your stories, because I think in watching others be brave we can learn to be braver ourselves.  

Our courage can help others live more bravely as well.  And it just might save us all a lot of heartache (and maybe even a boatload of money).