Wednesday, November 4, 2009

#19 Heart over Head

October 1st 2009

Heart over Head

We all battle our own personal inner demons and I don’t know one person who doesn’t have them. That ongoing struggle that occurs when our heads and our hearts are in disagreement is as old as time. Lately I am finding myself at a number of crossroads. 30 is creeping closer by the day and for one of the first times in my life I am all of a sudden acutely aware of my inner conflicts, although I am fairly confident that have always been there. I’ve always felt as though I was different and would never have that easy path I envied of some of my peers. But lately, after digging around in my head, I am starting to question everything.

Life is often time, a given. It’s a given that one follows in their father’s footsteps. Or it’s a given that growing up in a certain area means you will have and want to have later on, a certain standard of life. It’s often a given that we grow up wanting certain things in our lives that are standard society measures of happiness and prosperity. Good job, marriage, kids, holiday home, and all the stress that comes with trying to live a comfortable life. But is that what our heads tell us we want, or our hearts? How many of us, given the chance to let go of all those influences and expectations, would be doing something completely different and be living a life that is unrecognisable to our own? There is little understanding given to those who really branch out. They are called renegades and are chided for avoiding responsibility. Men are called Peter Pan and are told to grow up and women are tagged with “Bridget Jones” or “Sex and the City” syndrome as if being single and independent was some sort of medical disease.

But people who beat to their own drum are rarely viewed as successful or as an example for others to follow. That is, unless they are able to turn their way of life into a fantastic financial success. But that is the exception. Those who go their own way and do not become the next Richard Branson, but fall somewhere between comfortable and not so comfortable, are viewed with suspicion and are deemed not to be trusted. Society can’t understand why they don’t want to get a “regular job” and label them as lazy. Or why they don’t want to get married and have 2.5 kids and label them a loner. Parents shake their heads and mutter amongst each other that they ‘just don’t know what is wrong with Jake/Sarah’, and then the next thing you know you are cast aside as the black sheep of the family.

Now I am not 100% speaking from experience here as although I often think I am the black sheep of my family, I have stayed pretty true to the society rules. Straight A student, captain of the volleyball team, Ivy League education, corporate job with a large pharmaceutical company out of college, and have now set up my own business abroad. By no means do I even appear to tread that line of renegade loser who treks around the world in search of myself. But why not? Sometimes I feel as though I am closer to that line than it may appear. I rebelled all through high school after I considered myself a very good and obedient child during my early years. I even recall the only time I ever failed a test in elementary school and the shame I felt at having to tell my parents. I must have been no older than 8 and I recall it clearly. Later on, the rules that regulated my high school, I truly believed, were only there for me to break them. I then went as far as I possibly could go to attend university, both geographically (California to Rhode Island) and socially (conservative to hippy liberal), disappointing a few who hoped I would follow the family Trojan tradition and attend USC (University of Southern California). After heading back to California after college, I saw my life stretching out in front me as one long sunny day full of happy hours and beach parties and the family business. So I made a very snap and rash decision to move to London. I knew it was the right thing to do and I also knew that no one else but me would think so.

Now looking back at that decision 6 years later, it was clearly one of the best I have ever made. It was heart over head all the way. The reason I bring it up, is that I was also at a cross roads at my life then. I was bored and unfulfilled and wanted more out of my life. At 23, I knew I needed nothing short of a drastic change. Now I am nearly 30, I am again at that cross road. But this time, it’s not just me standing on the corner trying to decide which path to take. So what do I do? Do I do what everyone wants me to do and expects me to do? Or do I follow my heart and do what I want? These days my heart is so clouded by my head that I have to really listen to hear its voice. I am so used to making decisions that are responsible and taking calculated risks and thinking about the pros and cons of things before I do them, that I have left my heart to ride shotgun for a long time. But if I know one thing for certain, it’s that my head has made great decisions as well as horrible decisions, but, my heart has never let me down once.

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