Throughout my 20’s, I didn’t often say what I really thought, unless I knew I wouldn’t offend anyone who heard it. I was concerned with pleasing other people and being liked.
For the past 6 months, I’ve been auditing myself and thinking about what I’ve learned from my 20’s. I will turn 30 in just a few weeks. This particular issue — the struggle to be candid and risk ridicule, it’s something that a lot of other people I’ve talked to are dealing with.
Why is it difficult for many of us to be candid? I can’t answer that question for anyone else; but, here’s the reason I think it’s difficult for me.
My family did not grow up with a lot of luxuries. Everything we had was either gifted to us by a relative or earned by working for a company. Neither of my parents owned their own business or did any type of freelance work. Our income depended entirely on a paycheck. That financial safety net could have been ripped away at any time.
As I approached my 20’s, I began to realize that I thought differently than most people in my family and all my friends. Even though my thoughts weren’t wrong they often felt strange.
Luckily, I dealt with this feeling by deciding that I was smarter than everyone around me. I say “luckily”, because I know many others people who dealt with being different by thinking they were broken — that there was something inherently wrong with them.
By the time I was in my mid-teens, I was the only person in my family who didn’t want to work for a boss. Instead, I wanted to start a business. On top of that, a lot of social norms and constructs made little sense to me.
After high school, I began a journey of working in any low paying jobs, going to college, dropping out of college and working even more low paying jobs. Then, I discovered entrepreneurship and started creating income for myself. At the time of writing this, it’s been about 7 years since I’ve worked for anyone else.
It took more than a decade; but, I eventually “made it”. I’m an entire world away from the environment I grew up in. My family looks to me for advice and support. Last year, I was able to send my parents to Hawaii for their 30 year anniversary. It was their first time staying in a 5 star resort. That trip cost more than I made in an entire year, when I was 20 years old.
There is no boss to fire me for saying something they disagree with. The money I make will always be there; because, I know how to create something out of nothing. There’s security in that.
When we work for a boss, we have to placate that person. When you own your own business, it’s important to push your brand out into the world — to be candid. My goal for the next year is to practice just that.
I want to be free from the fear of ridicule and being disliked. And if I ever decide to have children, I hope they never learn to fear their livelihood being ripped from them because of things they think or say.
That would be an outcome worth working toward.