Defying the Expected
*This post is done in partnership with Rogaine®
Justin chiming in today to share a few thoughts that I had been debating about for some time, but I think it will be appropriate, and it works well to share these in support of Rogaine®’s campaign to defy your DNA. Now, while this doesn’t touch on literal DNA, our upbringings and experiences can sometimes shape us more than DNA can.
We often receive a question about my family, and I always resort to answering that I don't have any. While in part this is true, I am not an orphan as many people assume. I have never shared the details before, but here they are.
All throughout my life I was told the things that I should or should not be doing. I learned early on that the consequences of defying those expectations would be severe, so as the time of high school graduation approached I had already given up on going after anything else other than what my parents thought was the right path for me. I knew which university I was going to (the only one my parents had approved me to apply to), and whether I really liked it or not I had accepted the fact that I would be going into the Air Force ROTC program because that is what was seen as fit and proper for me. I didn't even object or fight anymore because it was absolutely pointless. I just went with the flow and tried to be happy with what I had.
However, all that changed after I married and started having children. It was as if a light had turned on, and I will forever and always remember reading one of the books my wife had given to me as a surprise, and as I read and thought about our new family starting to grow and what my life was destined to take me to if I stayed on this pre-assigned path, that I honestly really hated, I realized that it was not a place that I wanted my wife and kids to have to go to as well.
I started making changes in my career and education choices, and almost immediately I started getting resistance from the family that raised me. I was not following the “right path” as they would often say. I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing from their point of view. Conversations of kindness began turning into communications of skepticism and outright anger at times.
It was clear that being able to walk on two paths was not going to work. It was also clear that the never ending tension was causing rifts in the family that was the most important to me, which was my own. My marriage and the relationships with my children were suffering. It was a heartbreaking time, and I was forced by the very people who raised me to choose between them, and my own family, my own children, and my own wife. It was one of the most painful times that I have experienced, but I made my choice. Even though I continued to hear for the next few years that I would regret this choice and that it was the worst decision to make, I had chosen that which my heart told me to do and stuck with it. Those years weren't easy. They were the hardest years I have ever gone through, but I just kept on going forward and building that which I believed in, that which I had envisioned, and that which deep inside I knew to be right.
Fast Forward almost 10 years and I am doing things and going places that even I would never have imagined I would. I have a life that is so far removed from what was expected of me when I was diligently following all the stencils that were pre-set for me. While I had never imagined that I would ever have to make a choice like this, and I hope that no one else ever does, defying what was expected of me and going with what my heart was telling me was right, was the best thing that I could ever have done for myself, my children, my wife, my only-now family.
The pain is there, and always will be, but it is so minor compared to the happiness that I see in eight pairs of eyes that would never be there if I didn't make my choice to defy my own upbringing.
While it was very challenging to step out into the unknown, and there are different challenges that come and go, for me it was a life-changing experience and it set me on the path that I am now which has led to a new and amazing life that wouldn't exist if I stuck to the script. The change and separation from all the expectations was a very hard thing to go through, but it was also the most liberating.
It just goes to show you that nobody’s life has to follow the way you thought it would go. Just because you may have been raised with certain expectations, or even a physical trait like hair loss in your family, that would indicate a certain future, there so many things that we can do to defy those obstacles. Nobody has to tell you what you can’t do, or can’t attain. The power is within each of us.