Everyone I know follows one path to “success.”
Graduate from college.
Get a job.
Retire with enough savings to splurge on vacation.
This was the life planned for me 5 years ago, when I was essentially a housewife for a traditional Chinese guy.
I was told not to worry about getting a job, because I’d be taken well care of. And that I should just focus on cooking, cleaning and looking prettier each day. Ultimately, my entire purpose was to make my man happy.
If I kept this up, my ex and I would eventually get married and live off the coast of California, where we could finally live without work restrictions.
But unfortunately, things didn’t go as I expected.
He wanted us to date other people as the final test for marriage, as this would allow us to know if we’re the most compatible partners. But after a few months, he forced me to pack my bags back to my parent’s house. After a year, he stopped talking to me.
I was devastated.
There was nothing I had for my future. No fancy resume. No big connections. No real life skills (except cooking).
I had to start from scratch. So I became a waitress for one year and a recruiter for 4 months, grinding hard to earn money and to build a good resume for future opportunities.
It wasn’t long though before I realized I hated the 9–5 lifestyle. I wanted to learn more. Do more. Be more. But I was stuck doing the same thing, day by day.
So I quit my 9–5 job and jumped into a startup as a content marketer. That was the golden moment when I discovered Medium and began writing personal stories.
Even though I’m not a professional writer, writing has allowed me to find myself. To discover what I wanted. To spread my voice to thousands of people across the world.
In the end, I became more confident in who I was and where I wanted my life to be — in Southeast Asia, enjoying the freedom and culture shock.
Bottom line of my story
Do what you want to do. Don’t follow what others expect you to do.
Because at the end of the day, you might not be happy when you achieve the milestones everyone seems to work for. The reason is because this is NOT the path you want for yourself.
There’s something you want more dearly, but you choose not to go for it.
Maybe you need to cut off your main source of income.
Maybe you need to hurt someone you love.
Maybe you need to move thousands of miles away.
Maybe you’re just afraid of change.
Whatever it is, I dare you to try it once. Dive into your fear head first. If it fails, it’s not the end of the world. But it’s better to try and tumble than wait and wonder.
You can always get back on your feet and achieve a better life if you keep improving yourself. And part of that is taking the risk to do what you want to do.
As Todd Brison says in his book, The Unstoppable Creative, “it often matters less which path you take. More important is your decision to walk.”
Todd and I have become good friends over the last few years of writing on Medium. His new book — The Unstoppable Creative — comes out today!
If you’re interested, you can pick it up right here.