I’ve been wanting to discuss this matter for quite some time, the matter that WE as HUMANS do NOT have to fit some societal mold or live our life as others feel we “should”. What I mean by this is: People in our world will always have opinions and expectations of how they feel life must be lived – a paved road that many others walk. However, that doesn’t mean you have to believe or follow these constructs because, the TRUTH is, everyone has a different path. Mine was a windy, rocky, muddy path up a tall mountain – but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Growing up, I believed I HAD to go to college. I was a pretty bright kid and set the bar high for myself early in life. Thus, such expectations by family (and even by myself) were set in place: I should further my education and hopefully pursue a legal career or medical career – something with a guaranteed secure future and prestige. Because I could. I had the ability. This is where the confusion set in. Since others (including society) told me this is the right choice, I felt it was a no-brainer. This is what I had to do. BUT, in my heart, I knew it wasn’t right.
I clearly remember sitting down at a local diner with my best friend, exactly one week before departing for college, and having a conversation that went something like this…
Friend: “I don’t want to do this.”
Me: “Me neither. We should just leave and move to Los Angeles, or somewhere along the West Coast”.
Friend: “We have money” (referring to all our high school grad party money we received).
Me: “Could you imagine?”
There was more hypothesizing and wishful thinking after this, but you get the picture. We KNEW in our hearts, then and there, we didn’t want to go to college. But it was expected. And, in our minds, it was too late.
I ended up going for a broad degree – Communication Arts – because I had NO idea what I actually wanted to do within the realm of all the aforementioned expectations.
All my life, I grew up wanting to be in the film world, whether it be acting, directing, producing, etc. I wanted to be a part of that industry. Nevertheless, I was told “That is unrealistic, Mindy. Most people never make it”. And, because I had NO idea how to go about turning this dream into reality, I began to believe society: I shouldn’t follow far-fetched, childish dreams. It’ll get me nowhere. I’m too good for that (to go nowhere), and blah blah blah. Deep down, I wanted to begin chasing those dreams the moment I was handed my high school diploma. I wanted to run away and chase this WILD and CRAZY life that I had always envisioned for myself. And, since I was NOT doing that…I didn’t know what to do.
College happened. It was a mess. I consistently felt trapped and stifled. I tried at times (if it was a class I found interesting), but mostly..I felt I was learning useless information for any future that I had pictured for myself. I despised the whole institutionalized affair.
Furthermore, even the relationships I was in, at this time, were all just “nice’. They all wanted to end in a white picket fence with a baby on the hip, living somewhere in the suburbs surrounded by “nice” restaurants and “nice” neighbors. Even if it sounded “nice,” it sounded BORING (to me – to some, it’s the life they desire and I’m not dissing it – to each their own. The world is meant to be full of different ideals and dreams). Personally, I didn’t want a “nice” life. And never have. I wanted a life of PASSION and EXCITEMENT. A life of possibilities and growth. A life of challenges and wonderment. Full of the unexpected, tirelessly pushing myself outside of my comfort zone.
Thank the heavens I’ve never been a person to settle, because had I been..I probably would’ve ended up with that stereotypical “nice” life. Probably happy. But not fulfilled.
This leads me to my next point..
DO CHASE YOUR DREAMS. DO MAKE MISTAKES. DO NOT GIVE UP.
By my 5th year of college (yes, 5th year because I kept transferring – blaming the school for my discontent), little miracles began to show up.
Firstly, my best friend (same one from above convo, who ALSO ended up struggling with school and quitting) found an article in the local newspaper for a casting call. The casting call was searching for extras to appear in a Hollywood Blockbuster being filmed in the Pittsburgh area.
“WOAH, what? BIG FILMS come to MY city?” This was the first moment that opened my eyes to a brand new world.
I pounced on this opportunity, attending the casting call with my best friend. The two of us ended up getting called + hired for the same scenes in the film (titled “I Am Number Four”) and had a BLAST during our times on set. Even more, I began to make connections. I found out about other casting sites for nearby films and commercials and, thus, my fire was LIT. I finally found the motivation and inspiration I had been lacking for the past 5 years while I was following a road paved for someone else – a road paved by societal expectations.
Still juggling school and my part time job as a grocery store cashier, I began auditioning for any and all independent films, commercials, promotional events and more. Which lead to..
“The Journey Within”
No, really, that was the title of the film..the little project that ultimately changed my life. Oh, the serendipity!
My now husband (then stranger), along with two of his best friends, casted me as the lead role in “The Journey Within” (movie photos above). I was ecstatic! This was a role and project that I was VERY interested in. Not to mention, the people involved seemed to get it…get the life I always wanted..because, they too, wanted the same.
Doug (my now husband) and I began to cross paths more and more throughout the upcoming years, as new opportunities began to arise for me BEHIND the camera. I was both acting and working on film/tv crews. I was doing IT! I was officially a part of the industry and never needed college, whatsoever. What I DID need was my undying determination and unbreakable will to live the life I imagined. To passionately chase my dreams. See my point? College is NOT for everyone. The SAME life is NOT for everyone.
(throwback photos to early in my career)
(A few of our wedding photos, taken by John Bair)
— Also note, we did the unconventional thing once again – got married in Vegas vs. having the typical big, “fairytale” wedding – and most people STILL question our decision. *que eye roll*
I ended up moving to the city, marrying Doug (my partner in crime and crazy dreamer soul-mate) and am now a freelancer in the reality tv/doc world (as my career). Furthermore, because I freelance – I am able to follow another one of my BIGGEST passions: travel. I am able to travel and experience the beauty of this world and LEARN from cultures, near and far. I am becoming a storyteller which, in a sense, is all I’ve ever wanted to do; tell stories – rather it be by acting them out, directing them, writing them, speaking them, filming them +!
Above all, I am now on MY path and following MY dreams and living the life I WANT. And guess what? I am the happiest person, full of passion and hope. HOPE. That’s the biggest one. When I was desperately trying to live that expected life, I was losing hope. I was losing hope in my dreams and in my future. And THAT, single handedly, was killing my soul. I, ultimately, lost myself. But, because I never gave up (being the stubborn spitfire that I am), I rediscovered myself AND have grown into an even better version – a version I am proud of and will continue to work on building. I am constantly chasing bigger and crazier dreams and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s not always easy (check out my blog post: How Do You Travel So Much? to read more about the ups and downs of the freelancer / film life), but nothing that comes easy is ever worth much! Remember that. With great risk comes great reward. If you want something so bad that it consumes every fiber of your being – even if you envision a life for yourself that others do not understand – do everything in your power to make it happen! It’s ok to be misunderstood, criticized or even doubted for taking bold risks. In fact, that is more than OK. That means that you are an individual and you are following YOUR path.
“I’ve got the guts to die. What I want to know is, have you got the guts to live?”
Think about Mr. Williams’ words above. Do YOU have the guts to live? TRULY live? Not just live a life you feel you HAVE to live, but live the life you DESIRE? The life you imagine in your dreams? DO YOU? Do you dare to make mistakes, stumble, fall and get back up again? Do you dare take the road less traveled?
To clarify, I am not knocking on people who DO desire and dream of the white picket fence life in the suburbs, or the people who dream of going to college and becoming a nurse. If that is truly what YOU want – GOOD! I hope all your dreams come true. But because I live a life that many do not understand, I want others to know that it is OK to live a misunderstood life.
Heck, my life is STILL misunderstood.
My friends and family think because my husband and I are now married that we now must buy a house and start a family. Because…duh..that’s what people DO when they get married. But not everyone. That’s not what WE want.
- We travel WAY too much that owning a house seems asinine. Plus, I’m not even sure I want to set down roots. I’m striving to travel MORE each and every passing year.
- We don’t want kids. I know, to some, that sounds unfathomable. But parenthood isn’t for everyone – it’s not for us. I love children and am so excited to be an aunt (VERY SOON). However, I don’t want any of my own.
- I wish to change the world in other ways; such as helping the homeless in my city. I want to show kindness to strangers and lend a helping hand whenever I can. I want to aid other, less fortunate, people across the globe whether it be by donating money, creating clean water sources/supplies, helping rebuild their homes, spreading awareness and generosity, etc. I want to help create a better world by helping clean and preserve the environment and by protecting wildlife…so on and so forth. I want to dedicate my life to helping others and our world while continually growing and learning about this earth we inhabit. With that being said, raising a kid (which I believe to be a full-time gig and first priority) would not be conducive. I would not be able to live the life I feel I am called to live or MEANT to live, were I to have children.
People even ask “When do you think you and your husband will settle down?” This, to me, is them asking “When will you grow up”? They ask this, because they do not understand our life. And that is ok. We understand our life and we LOVE our life. We, along with others alike, cannot allow others’ inability to understand keep us from designing our own, unique lives.
This goes with religion as well. “Everyone must fit in a box” – says society.
I believe in God, but I don’t go to church. My place of worship and spiritual connection is in the heart of nature. In the wilderness is where I feel and talk to God. But, because I do not go to church or devoutly read the bible, people don’t understand – they say I’m not Christian enough. Or I’m not religious ENOUGH. When, in actuality, they JUST DON’T understand. And, if there’s one thing for certain, people will ALWAYS judge and label things that they do not understand.
Even more, I love to learn about other religions and I do not discount them. I am constantly trying to understand others’ beliefs and see the world through their eyes. It fascinates me. However, it confuses others. I, also, am wildly intrigued by the astrology world AND I love to use tarot cards. “HOW CAN SOMEONE WHO BELIEVES IN GOD ALSO USE TAROT CARDS?” – the people ask, bewildered.
See … no matter what, people will judge and discredit you if they don’t understand. And, I want to make it clear to YOU, that it’s ok. Follow YOUR beliefs, follow YOUR heart + soul and walk YOUR own path, please! This world desperately needs free thinkers, dream chasers and individual souls who are willing to go against the grain + break free from the mold.
This was a rather long and personal post (rant, even haha!) – but I hope it can help someone, even if it’s just one person, believe in themselves and know that it’s ok to not “fit in” (in lesser words). You crazies aren’t alone. We’re the wild ones. Be proud of it. Be proud to live a life others do not understand. Making people THINK and RETHINK is GOOD. Challenging others is GOOD. Through challenges = growth. ALL people need to grow.
I’ll leave you with some significant words to let saturate:
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
“I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.”
“Some people are born with tornadoes in their lives, but constellations in their eyes. Other people are born with stars at their feet, but their souls are lost at sea.”
“Great leaders get people to admit the truth because they know that dreams are buried under the lies they tell themselves, in order to feel okay with giving up.”
“Don’t you find it odd,” she continued, “that when you’re a kid, everyone, all the world, encourages you to follow your dreams. But when you’re older, somehow they act offended if you even try.”
“So many people will tell you ”no”, and you need to find something you believe in so hard that you just smile and tell them ”watch me”. Learn to take rejection as motivation to prove people wrong. Be unstoppable. Refuse to give up, no matter what. It’s the best skill you can ever learn.”
“When you take the step towards your dreams you will be met with fears because you have never traveled this way before. As you go, you will discover that you had nothing to fear. Through overcoming your fears you give those that follow you hope that if they pursue their dreams, they will achieve their dreams.”
“Do Not Lie to Yourself
We have to be honest about what we want and take risks rather than lie to ourselves and make excuses to stay in our comfort zone.”
“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”
“I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.”
“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”
As always, thank you for reading and happy travels!
P.S. comment below if this speaks to you. Let me know if you, too, live a life others do not understand and how/if/when you’ve come to grips with it – learned to love it! xoxo