Three years ago, I was fired from my primary retail job that was paying the majority of my bills. While I started to receive unemployment benefits, I made the decision to go back to school for massage therapy, a decision that has blessed me in more ways than I could have ever fathomed. But it also changed the way I look at the world, how I treated others and, most importantly, how I carry myself.
Before going back to school, I was a regular in the Gulf Coast gay club scene. I always knew where the best party was going to be on any given day of the week. I would flounce from human cluster to human cluster, chiming in and cutting up with everyone in the place. I knew all of the bartenders and the other regular patrons, some of which have become very good friends of mine outside of the nightlife. The consummate definition of the social butterfly.
But when I started going to school and realized the amount of work and sacrifice that would be needed to succeed, I decided cut back tremendously on the partying and going out and I traded my late nights for early mornings. Instead of focusing on which bar I was going to frequent over the weekend, the weekend consisted of enjoying homework and studying the various parts of the human body to the point where the material was common knowledge in my brain. I even started making the gym a semi-regular thing. I would partake in a night out here and there but I made it my priority to be the best student I could be. But not everyone in my life was excited by the changes I had been making.
I had my healthy share of “friends” wondering where I was, judging me for getting tired at 11 in the evening, and looking at me like I grew a extra leg because I would rather rest up instead of turn up. These individuals kept telling in one fashion or another “You’ve changed”. Anytime I would make an appearance at a club or party, I heard about how I wasn’t the same party animal I used to be. It never failed.
After feeling the warm wash of their tribal shaming a few times, I developed a retort to their accusations of my behavioral changes: whenever someone said that I had changed in a way that wasn’t at the detriment of others’ health or mine, physical or otherwise, I simply replied, “Good!”. If I want something different and beneficial for my life and if I want to solidify the stability of my future, it is only natural that some things and habits had to change. I learned to focus on the people who understood and respected those evolutionary changes because they were there to celebrate my eventual success.
The truth is every time you try to make positive steps towards a better life for yourself (going back to school, getting in shape, getting a better job, eat healthier, etc.), you are almost certain to have a few people who won’t understand, nor will they be willing to understand. They will even try to convince you to remain the same, bargaining their loyalty and your relationship with them for your personal stagnation. When you come across those individuals on your way towards growth and betterment and they will show up, here are some thoughts to remember as you interact with them.
Remain clear about your intentions for changing.
Keep yourself well reminded of your reasons for changing. That will help to keep your focus as you strive for your definition of excellence in the face of judgement and occasional guilt trips. And if they are open to hear the method to your madness, there’s always the chance that they will morph from a hater to a cheerleader to your goals.
Their resistance to supporting you has nothing to do with you.
The negative responses you encounter are reflection of what is going on inside of that person, not you. Those insecurities, issues and baggage only belong to you if you allow yourself to take on those things. I have yet to see a case when a person’s opinions and judgements were not a matter of perspective. So let them ruffle their feathers because you will only lose time and energy that could be better spent on your aspirations by entertaining a hater’s foolishness.
“Don’t share your big dreams with small minded people.” -Steve Harvey
The King of Comedy couldn’t have said it better!!! Not everyone is going to be able to understand or comprehend the magnitude of your aspirations. So be mindful of those who aren’t on board with your goals and give them information on a strict need-to-know basis. Otherwise, their negative attitudes and opinions could erode and retard your progress.
I am beyond proud and grateful to say that the hard work and dedication continues to bless me. I graduated at the top of my class and I have created the start of a wonderful career. Recently, I was even able to trade in my dilapidated 2001 Ford Taurus for a beautiful 2015 Volkswagen Passat that I have lovingly named Alciede (yes, after the wolf from ‘True Blood’. It’s a sexy car, trust!!!). But I had to grow and evolve beyond what I had been to be who I am now and have what I have now, including the sexy car!!! So let others either fall in line or fall away and keep on keeping on to the edge of your evolution.