We all have someone who doesn’t agree with our choices—career, family, education, living location, personal style…
Sometimes we value other people’s opinions because those people help us be better versions of ourselves. Sometimes we value other people’s opinions because we hope their acceptance will validate us.
Recently, I was talking to my son about choosing to be the person he wants to be. He’s a teenager and wonders what the future holds for him. As in other articles and posts, I reflected on music from my life.
Although I don’t agree with every lyric or attitude in Bobby Brown’s song “My Prerogative,” I like the overall message I choose to glean from it and shared it with my son.
…Everybody’s talkin’ all this stuff about me
Why don’t they just let me live (Tell me why)
I don’t need permission
Make my own decisions (Oh)
That’s my prerogative
It’s my prerogative (It’s my prerogative)…
It’s the way that I wanna live (It’s my prerogative)
I can do just what I feel (It’s my prerogative)
No one can tell me what to do (It’s my prerogative)…
Songwriters: Teddy Riley / Gene Griffin / Bobby Brown
My husband and I have taught our children that they are free to choose how they live. Others are free to choose how they live. As long as their choices are legal and do not harm themselves or others (more than physical harm must be considered, by the way)—ideally their choices will lift others—we can support their choices.
Regardless of their choices, the choices are theirs, even if we would make different choices or wish they would make different choices.
Every choice has a consequence, whether it’s a consequence we want or a consequence we don’t want.
We choose how we show up in the world. The world chooses how it responds to us. We then choose how we respond to the world’s response to us.
It becomes a potentially beautiful cycle.
Another song that has been running through my head consistently for the last week or so is “Mirror” written by Tim Feehan and sung by Samantha Smith. It has a message I want everyone to experience. It has a message that took me years to internalize fully. It has a message I strive to teach my children and everyone I meet:
… I may not move a mountain
Or solve the whole world’s problems
But if I can help to solve just one today
I believe, I believe in what I see
Lookin’ at me
And what I’ve become
There in the mirror
I believe, I believe, I believe in me
I like what I see there in the mirror
In this world of social media, continuous media, and frequent comparisons, it’s important to recognize that each person has a choice about how to life your life.
The way you live your life your life is up to you, not up to your parents, your significant other, your children, your employer, your neighbor…
Some choices will give you consequences you want – personal fulfillment, peace, financial prosperity, physical freedom, health, happy relationships.
Some choices will give you consequences you don’t want – unhappiness at work, speeding tickets, decrease in physical health, boredom, “wasted” time (depends on your interpretation), continuing an unhappy relationship, no recognizable progress. It’s up to you. It’s up to me how I live my life. It’s up to you how you live yours.
You were blessed with certain gifts, talents, joys, perspectives. All of those things, when you choose to put effort into them, can become strengths.
Those strengths can then be used to bless the world – your world and the world around you. You can then use those strengths to improve your life as you see it, find the things you don’t enjoy that still need to be done, and determine if you build a team that balances you out or if you learn how to do new things.
Ms. Arleen Lorrance, in her Love Project effort in the 1970s said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” (even though often it has been attributed to Mahatma Gandhi)*. She decided that if she were to make a difference at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, NY, she needed to model what she expected. It made a significant difference to those with whom she interacted.
If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree.
Every day, you have the choice to be YOU and let other people be them regardless of how they respond to you. Not everyone will like you. Quite frankly, you don’t like everyone either. Regardless of who does and who does not like or identify with you, you will improve the world around you best by being your best YOU. You being YOU the best way that you can will allow others to be themselves and to honor your choice to be you.
Know your strengths.
Own your strengths.
Build on your strengths.
You’ll find you’re stronger than you know or believe and your strengths will strengthen someone else.