What did your family life look like growing up?
Did you have strict parents who set high expectations and standards?
I was raised in a family that loved me very deeply and always pushed me to be the best version of myself. But even though they showered me with love and always wanted to see me succeed, they didn’t necessarily always know what was best for me.
Their intentions were always pure, honest, and kind. Albeit, they often came from the social conditioning instilled upon us by society. I’m not saying it’s their fault that they put a lot of pressure on me — They just didn’t understand the different thinking I had on the world.
I’m not here to tell you that one type of thinking is better than the other. I’m here to share with you why for me, this type of thinking just didn’t line up with my true self.
I grew up in a conservative and religious family, raised in a Russian-Ukrainian household in Canada. Before I moved to Canada, I was raised by my Ukrainian grandmother. My Grandma eventually moved and lived in Canada for six months of the year, for the next 15 years.
I inevitably had two mother’s teaching me certain values and traditions, and I had to listen to and respect the expectations set out by them from a very young age. My family’s’ expectations of who or what I would one day become grew exceedingly high as the years went by.
Telling you that Soviet families are complicated, is an understatement. My entire life, I have been raised to compete against myself which has subconsciously turned me into a high achiever and a bit of a people pleaser.
Do you find that you put immense pressure on yourself sometimes and bent over backwards to get the approval of others?
Welcome to my life.
Saying this, I do appreciate the character building I have undergone growing up, and I am proud of the strong and independent woman that I have become today. I am by no means writing this to try to put my family down.
Rather, I believe that the tough love I received was truly a blessing in disguise. Even though my upbringing instilled self-confidence in me, the expectations and standards that my family has always set out for me have led me onto this path of rebellion to go against the grain.
Do you feel stuck and alone because you aren’t living up to the expectations set out by our society?
Do you feel like you are letting your family down because you haven’t followed through with your career, haven’t gotten married or started a family of your own?
Trust me, I’m right there with you.
Or maybe you are following through with all of the above. BUT maybe, you are feeling slightly resentful toward your family. Maybe you want to go against the grain, but you don’t want to let your family down…
I get it, I was once in your shoes.
And I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone.
Rather, there is a whole community of wanderers looking to find a purposeful life that they wish to create for themselves. We just want to do it in a different way.
Shouldn’t that be okay?
How many of you grew up in a family that valued societal structure including getting a university degree with a high academic average, starting your career young, and getting married by your mid-20s and having children by the time you turned 30?
A lot to live up too isn’t it?
I’m sure many of you are nodding along right now. And if you’re not, well then you should feel blessed that you didn’t experience what it’s like to spend most of your life marinating in a high-pressure cooker!
Maybe you’re the person who already has all that?
And I truly think that’s wonderful and beautiful if that is what truly makes you happy. I’m not here to judge anyone for being one way or the other.
At the end of the day, don’t we all just want to feel the utmost happiness with the life we created for ourselves?
Of course we do.
I know a lot of people who are completely and utterly happy with working a 9-5, living the simple life with their husband and kids. But, I also know that there are many people out there who don’t necessarily want that life.
Maybe you don’t want that life just yet, or maybe not ever?
Whatever you want, it matters. So does your happiness.
So I want you to ask yourself this. Are you are willing to take a risk on yourself and go against the grain?
Are you willing to go against your family’s wishes and values?
I grew up with the pressure of becoming either a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher. It seems to me that those were my only options. I don’t know if any of you grew up in an Eastern European household or another strict cultural household, but if you became anything else… then you were simply seen as a failure.
I remember when I brought up the idea of going away for University in Australia like it was yesterday. My parents, especially my grandparents in Ukraine were in complete and utter shock. They asked me, “Why would you want to spend so much money on tuition, plane tickets, rent, food, etc?”
I replied, “Because I want to see the world and be independent.”
For my grandparents, this was simply foolish and stupid.
“Why wouldn’t you just play it safe, stay with your parents and save your money!” they would yell at me. I was already a failure in their eyes for just thinking differently.
So the last 6 years, I have learned to navigate through my life and come to terms with accepting that I will probably remain a disappointment to my family for the next few years. I made peace with this. I rather disappoint other people, than myself.
Because at the end of the day, I am the one who has to live with my decisions and my happiness.
Don’t you want to be true to yourself?
Don’t you want to be 100% happy?
The judgment didn’t end with the career path I chose, but also with the type of lifestyle I cultivated for myself. I was traveling by myself to foreign countries in Asia since I was 22. I remember my grandmother asking me, “why do you want to be alone?” She just couldn’t understand the concept behind my actions.
She still can’t understand how and why I do all of these things without a man. I tried to explain and justify to my grandparents for years, but they never grasped my reasoning.
I realized, that my people-pleasing behaviour was coming into play here. I was obviously affected by their judgments and opinions. I was going to great lengths to justify myself because I was aware that I was disappointing them.
It took me 5 years to realize that I was doing this. 5 YEARS. All the while I was living overseas, traveling by myself, working in different industries, I was carrying all of this weight in my backpack. This weight was the expectations I was holding on a pedestal set out by my family.
I am still working on the way I respond to their criticisms. For the most part, I nod my head and tell them what they would like to hear, “Don’t worry, I’ll be settling down soon, getting married and working as a high school teacher.”
I learned that I rather feed them with the response they want to hear, then to sit there for hours trying to explain myself to them. I would lose with the latter, and would only be hurting myself in the end.
Sadly, they would just never understand. It is much more difficult to change the mindset of an older generation than it is of a younger one. This is when I learned the secret to living my life without the extra weight of baggage.
My family actually fully supports my decisions now for the most part, which I never imagined could happen in this lifetime. Even my grandmother who always worried about my safety, sees how independent and self sustainable I have become.
The secret was to ONLY care about what I thought about myself.
Are you currently feeling overwhelmed by the expectations of your family members?
Do you find that you constantly seek their validation? Do you want to learn to stop doing this?
I’ve taught myself the hard way. I have battled with this my entire life, and only after I realized how much it was negatively affecting me, did I decide that I had to stop doing this to myself. I was the one responsible for creating this burden and putting the extra weight on my shoulders. I did it since I was a kid, and it wasn’t healthy.
Why do we become natural born people pleasers?
Why do we constantly put our happiness second?
It’s because we are taught from a young age that family is everything. Well at least I was. Your family are the only people loyal to you, they are the only people who get you, and they are the only ones who know what is best for you.
Yes, your family can have the best of intentions for you, but that doesn’t mean they are right about everything. Take it from me, I was told that I should settle back in Canada, go back to teaching, and find an eligible bachelor to get married too.
Did I do any of this?
I’m not done with my adventures around the world, and I have yet to find a partner who values a nomadic type of lifestyle.
Why would I settle for less?
I guess I always knew in my heart that when my grandparents put this pressure on me, that it came from pure love and genuine care. So I have conditioned myself to let go of that unsettling feeling that I created in my own mind.
What I mean by this, is that I am the one responsible for feeling like I have something to prove to them. I have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone. The only person I have something to prove something to is myself.
So ask yourself this…
Are you happy with what you are doing with your life?
Even though I may feel lost at times, I am 100% happy because I love to live my life spontaneously.
Are you happy with what you are creating for your vision of the future?
I have a clear vision for my future. The fact that not many people can see it now, doesn’t phase me. Because, who really cares about you and your vision?
That’s right no one gives a damn. Except for you.
If you answered no to any of these questions above, then maybe you are still stuck in a script that is being written by an outside audience. This is your one-woman show. Write your own goddam script, and stop allowing your family members or close friends to remain your editors.
You don’t need anybody’s approval. Not even your mother’s. Yes, she wants the best for you. But she may not understand your journey or life path. That is completely okay. In fact, it’s normal.
She will see it one day…
Just be patient.
You are an Adventurepreneur, a curator of your own story.
So will you choose to remain in the dark, overshadowed by the opinions and expectations of others?
Or will you rise up, dig into the depths of your soul and listen to your gut?
Remember, you can do anything that you set your mind to. You can rewrite your script. You can stop caring about other people’s opinions, expectations, and judgments. It takes practice. It’s like that old saying, “You go to the gym to build muscle, well your mind is also a muscle that you must train.”
Change your mindset and embrace who you truly are.
I’ve recently been coaching women who want to find the confidence to travel solo, but have expressed to me that they feel weighed down by their families expectations.
Are you ready to get past these obstacles and objections?
If so, then please subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss out on future tips/advice for dealing with obstacles and challenges related to traveling solo as a female.
Reach out to me if you need a coach that can help you find the confidence within to do so!
Thank you for reading,
May 25, 2020