Saying No to Naysayers on Your Path

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On the road to fulfilling your true purpose you're not always joined by cheerleaders. Even those closest to you may not rally in support and you may be taken aback - or downright shocked - by some reactions. I had always loved my job and my career, but this new love, the kids, the pajamas, was truly taking over my life. Could I leave the career I'd spent years building behind, and focus only on these children? I felt that I needed to approach my close family members and friends with my crazy idea and get their reaction. Why? I guess I needed their blessing or approval. And to see if they would alert me to some disastrous outcome I had not yet thought of.

You'll want to feel friends out for support but be aware it may not be easy. You may run into some surprising reactions that may stop you in your tracks. So what, exactly, do you tell them? I'm re-thinking my career... I haven't been feeling fulfilled... Something is missing in my life... I need to find my purpose...

For me, no matter how I phrased it, it was all going to boil down to the only thing they would be able to hear: "I'm thinking of throwing away everything in my career to walk around giving kids pajamas and books... And I have no idea how I will make enough money to eat."

I decided to try my pitch out on a friend I had met along my career path several jobs ago. I thought she got me. I crafted what I thought were a few compassionate, thoughtful and succinct sentences to let her know what I was thinking. One evening over drinks, I casually let her in on my thoughts. I said,

"I'm starting to re-evaluate my job ... my career actually... and wondering if there's something more I can do instead... something to help children... I've been giving kids in shelters pajamas and books... they don't have any... and I'm really feeling this could be something more than a part-time idea."

I was holding my breath but trying to act indifferent as I sipped my red wine, avoiding eye contact while feeling like I was laying my heart out on the table.

Her reaction? She took all of two seconds to say,

"Why on earth would you drop your career for that?"

My breathing stopped. My throat closed. I was crushed. In that moment, every negative thought I had ever had, every single doubt, came crashing down on me. My heart was pounding, and I had to fight the urge to flee the table, to stalk out of the restaurant without a word. What was I thinking? Was this going to be everyone's reaction? Was I being stupid and naïve? Was I out of my mind? Should I stop all this nonsense now and chalk it up to a fairy-tale idea, something to think about if, and only if, I won the lottery? I was shaking on the inside and probably on the outside too. My friend didn't flinch, so I guess my acting was award winning.

"Was just thinking about it, that's all," I said nonchalantly.

All I remember now is making an excuse to get out of the dinner that was supposed to follow our cocktails. I was a hotbed of emotions. Furious at her. Annoyed that she didn't "get it." Devastated that her first response wasn't, "Wow, what a brilliant idea - count me in!" Heartbroken that she didn't immediately care about these children like I did. But mostly just confused and panicked about leaving my safety net for some possibly crazy idea that I was willing to give up everything for. What if my little pajama charity never gained traction? Then where would I be?

I kissed her goodbye and haven't spoken to her since. I was devastated, but I remember my husband, my heartiest cheerleader, trying to lift my spirits when I told him what happened. He reminded, "It's your purpose. You cannot give up your purpose based on someone else's opinion. You have to trust yourself." And I did.

Trust Yourself.