Don’t be afraid to ask what you want and to follow that selfishly.
Ask questions. What do I value? What type of life do I want to create?
A lot of the time we don’t consider our underlying why.
Am I doing this because someone else has and I think I want to be like them? Am I doing this because someone convinced me I don’t have any other options? Am I doing this out of fear of making someone angry or disappointed in me? Or am I doing this because it genuinely expresses something I want out of life?
The philosopher René Girard called this absence of autonomous thought “mimetic desire”. We model our behaviours and our desires on those of others. This is what I am supposed to want. This is the life I’m supposed to want to lead.
The effect goes beyond the object. It becomes a comparative exercise. And this judgment of what others have acheived doesn’t help us with our own goals. When we commit to fulfilling what we want, without consideration for how other people view us, we quietly create our own personal freedom.
A couple of things to consider.
Firstly, don’t just be different for the sake of being different. If you find youself going after the same thing as someone else, that isn’t necessarily wrong. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.
And secondly, don’t isolate yourself from all feedback. Whilst we always try to make rational choices about what is best, sometimes we decieve ourselves. Be honest with yourself. But also consider the honest opinions of others. Be prepared to modify your plan.
Think critically. Scrutinise, cross-examine and test your desires.
If they stand up, take charge and go for it.