No One Else Gets To Choose What Makes You Happy

It took me a while to realize that we get to decide what makes us happy. You can be the most successful person and still not feel satisfied. You can have it all in the eyes of the world and still not be fulfilled. When you live your life to make others proud, you set yourself up for disappointment. I know this because that’s what I used to do—I wanted to make people proud, so I did what they wanted rather than what my heart yearned to do. And somewhere along the way, I lost myself.

I felt guilty for even considering breaking out of the box I was in—the degree I was supposed to get, and the job I was supposed to have. But now I know that there is nothing to feel guilty about. Not conforming to what people expect you to be isn’t selfish, it’s brave. You don’t have to fit into a mold to be successful. In fact, the most successful of us don’t. You don’t have to take over the family business if you don’t want to. You get to choose what makes you happy. You’re allowed to change, you’re allowed to take up space, and you’re allowed to make your own choices. I’m a strong believer that you can’t succeed in life if you’re not doing something that sends shivers down your spine and sets a fire in your stomach.

It can be difficult to be the person who follows their heart, to be the one who dares to do things differently. It’s true—breaking free of the standards we were programmed to follow isn’t easy. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to fall, and you’re going to doubt yourself. But what your head won’t tell you in the moments of self-doubt is that you are going to be okay. Even at your lowest, you’re still growing—you’re learning to survive the hurt, sit with those uncomfortable feelings, and love yourself even when you’re not meeting your own expectations. It’s at your lowest when it’s possible to dig to the deepest trenches of your heart to find your way out of the dark, and my god, you’ll feel proud if you do.

You’ll understand soon that to achieve your wildest dreams, you just need to believe in yourself. It’s not about what others think you should do, it’s about you and you alone. You’ve got this!

Founder of The Autism Cafe, writer, photographer, mother, and author of the photographic memoir, All Across The Spectrum, and Be The One, a poetry collection.

Keep up with Eileen on Instagram and