Ask my mother’s side of the family how my life is going and they’d tell you they feel sorry for me. That they wish I would just “snap out of it” and listen to them because they know better.
I dropped out of college in the middle of my third semester and I don’t intend on ever getting a corporate job. I lived outside the US for a year, confusing my family because they don’t understand why anyone would desire to live outside “the best country in the world.”
Ask my entrepreneurial friends how my life is going and they’ll tell you they wish they had started on this journey as early as I have. They’ll tell you I’m lucky and that I’m headed in the right direction.
Two completely different opinions.
One from a side that champions social status and wealth over personal satisfaction and freedom.
The other is a mixed bag that my family wouldn’t understand.
I was talking about this to someone who is an international best seller. He has spoken at two TEDx conferences, was interviewed on multiple national news channels, and has been featured on National Geographic. All these accomplishments and he STILL gets questioned by his family about when he’ll quit goofing off and get a traditional job.
Stories like these aren’t unique. Almost every nomad I meet in Asia has the same tale. Family and friends don’t understand what they’re doing, think they’re crazy, etc. Some are fortunate enough to have supporters from back home (I’m grateful for my dad’s side of the family trusting in my decisions.)
And it’s no one’s fault.
We mostly get small peeks through a window that offers a limited view into someone’s life. With that, we form opinions that don’t truly capture the individual’s motivations.
We don’t get to see everyone’s behind-the-scenes.
We’re missing pieces of everyone’s stories and don’t even realize our own potential ignorance.
With this in mind, I try to treat everyone with respect because I have no idea what amazing lessons they have to teach me.
Everyone’s a teacher.
Everyone knows something you don’t.
Sometimes their lessons won’t be applicable and hell, sometimes they’ll be flat out wrong.
But what if they’re right?
If you remind yourself that you might be missing the bigger picture then you will respect everyone you meet and hopefully walk away with something you didn’t know before.
In my case, I had my mind open when I first stumbled upon a conversation about location independence. Luckily, I kept digging until I learned enough to want it too.
Now, exactly a year has passed since I first landed overseas.
Keep your mind open. Try to pick up more pieces from others.
You have no idea what you might be missing.
Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley – Flickr & Mike V. for the awesome Pride Rock photo