We were raised under different standards, have higher expectations and are more judgmental in terms of what we accept from life. Our terms of success are now based on what makes us feel fulfilled, rather than choosing a job we dislike but have to take in order to feed the family we started. We choose an artistic career, or in their eyes, an 'unconventional' career that has very slim chances of measurable and steady success. We are getting married much later and traveling more. We are selfishly making an active effort to make the right choices in our own lives that are going to benefit us. It's difficult to be a part of a family that doesn't really understand this way of living. They can make you feel like you are living life incorrectly. It's degrading, uninspiring, emotionally difficult and honestly irritating. Not being able to talk to your family about your dreams and goals because they simply don't understand is really disobliging.
Once you realize this and find the courage within yourself to stick to your dreams and get through it on your own, it will drive a wedge between you and your loved ones. You will refrain from talking about your dreams with them, even when you are slowly accomplishing the stepping stones to get there--the more you accomplish, the less you'll share. You might keep them updated here and there, but finding the opportunity to sit down and share the one thing that makes your eyes gleam will not be so quick to come. This entire conversation is not enjoyable because of the mental disconnect. It might become tempting to think you're better than your family because you know you're going to make it differently than how they have ultimately chosen to live, but you shouldn't. That was their choice and this is yours.
In addition to misunderstanding parents, there are the relatives who are naysayers. Naysayers are the family members who not only don't understand your dream, they also purposefully put you down. Most often, naysayers have not fulfilled their own dreams. They haven't lived an inspired existence because they are too busy living in fear, and that is their own personal problem until they put this negativity onto you. Since their dreams didn't work out for them, they go around the dinner table just parroting words that have kept them down their whole lives. Maybe they believe that life is about living inside a sad land call Normalville, where regular people populate the average town of Mediocrity, sitting there drinking their morning cup of boring everyday. When they say they are just looking out for you and want you to set a realistic goal is maddening. Wait I'm sorry...is pursuing a dream you firmly believe in and one that others have also succeeded in unrealistic? Whatever the reason, your wild goals and ambitions may be threatening for this person. This criticism is easy to handle; simply block it out. Have confidence in your plans and refuse to hear their ungracious comments. Find that internal switch labeled 'Giving a Damn' and simply flick it from do to don't. Even if it's a family member.
Photography by Joshua Allen Harris