Yes, you have permission. You’ve always had permission.
Our whole lives, social constructs and institutions put so much pressure on us to get life right the first time around. And when we don’t get it right—as humans are prone to mistakes and bad judgment—we know in our heads that we have the choice to course-correct, but most people don’t dare. And when we do dare, we go through this whole internal crisis.
But still, most won’t dare.
Why? Because it’s easier to stay the course, to keep on smiling as we play the part we’ve created and built up for ourselves over the years. And all the while, we’re dying inside.
Think about it: how are we to make the most informed decision about our future career paths at age 16? How can we make a lifelong decision about whom to marry at age 21 or 25 when we haven’t even quite understood who we are? Chances are, those choices are made based on very limited knowledge of the world, of ourselves, and what we really want.
Yes there are those who seem to have had it all figured out at a young age — the math whiz who wrote his first computer program at age 13 and went on to become one of the most influential people in the world today. Or the boy who taught himself computing at age 10 and went on to become our key to space tourism. Or the woman who, at age 10, suddenly became heir to the British throne. That’s not most of us.
Most, and I’m tempted to say all, the social rules that keep us in line and shape our lives for us are artificial social constructs. Sure, they may serve some purpose — create order, keep the peace, ensure the survival of the species. But at what price? Our collective suffering?
Look, realising you chose the wrong university major, spent decades in the wrong career, trusted the wrong people, moved to the wrong city, or married/are dating the wrong person is not the end of the world.
We human beings are flawed. The beauty of being human is having the ability to change course when we make mistakes. We are adaptable. We survived to this day because we are able to. So when you find yourself at a crossroads of having to make the difficult decision of course-correcting, know that you don’t need to ask for permission to do so. You already have it by virtue of being human.
It’s not surprising that weeks of being in confinement has made many of us hold up a bigger mirror in front of ourselves and confront our demons. We have been subjected to an extreme form of social distancing that’s made us question which relationships matter most to us, which pursuits deserve our dedication the most, and which dreams we have to reach for as soon as we’re out of lockdown.
It’s okay to course-correct. It’s okay to pivot. The social rules that dictate how we should be living our lives are all in your head. Trust that your own internal compass will always guide you to your truth. If there’s anything this period has highlighted, it’s that our world can really change in an instant. For real. Tomorrow may never come, so follow your heart today. Live authentically. You already have permission.