People WILL judge you for #vanlife and any other big life changes. What can you do about it?
I’ve wanted to write a post regarding other people’s reactions to change, no matter what that change may be, where it comes from and how I choose to deal with it.
I’ve always been the kind of person who goes after what I want and oftentimes my dreams are unconventional. My family (parents) are the opposite. They had 1.5 kids (I’m the .5 LOL). They moved into the perfect house with the perfect number of bedrooms. My father worked a full time job to support my mother and the 1.5 children. My mother was a stay at home mom. They traveled 1-2 weeks out of every year, etc. They lived the “American dream” but that’s never been my dream, EVER. (Caveat: I recently learned that the American Dream was a marketing campaign by Fannie Mae to push people into buying property!)
When I wanted to travel solo, I did it. My family thought I was nuts and naysayed me all the way there and back again. Eventually I stopped telling them because I didn’t want to deal with their negativity.
When I went back to school in my 40’s to get a master’s degree, they naysayed me through my first year. I was too old, I was giving up my “best” earning years, yadda yadda yadda.
When I wanted to get a divorce and chose to be single and not have children, my father told me that I was a complete failure.
My family has pretty much labeled me as a failure for my entire life. And yet — I’ve achieved more in my lifetime than most of them (siblings not included) have achieved in a year.
This is not a brag, it’s a fact. I don’t need to list my accomplishments, they don’t matter. What matters is that there will ALWAYS be naysayers in your life. Don’t listen to them! Listen to and focus on the people who encourage and support you!
My impetus for writing this particular blog at this particular moment is a facebook post I recently saw. Another person in my family is trying out van travel. She’s not looking at it as a full time life but merely as a way to add more travel into her everyday life. She’s very active on Facebook. Me, not so much.
She posted a few pics of her first van experience and someone in my family posted that we are both “loopy” (another word for crazy) and this negative person hoped that I would see the post and “come to my senses”.
I responded with sarcasm (“thank you for your support and for calling us names”). Yes it pissed me off but it shouldn’t. This particular person in my family has never followed their dreams. EVER. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the things they bemoan constantly. They dreamed of moving to another state, but they never did. They have lived in the same house for over 40 years and they hate it. They hate their life. They are miserable.
So what about me following my dreams is upsetting to them? It’s like a slap in the face. It reminds them of what they never did. I liken it to a using alcoholic who has a sober friend. It’s pointing out their problems, their issues, their pain and their suffering.
People are scared of change. They just are. I’m not immune to that fear but I’m more afraid of not changing, of stagnating, of staying the same. One of my favorite quotes is from Tony Robbins: “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change."
I truly believe that, plus it’s the point I’ve finally reached. And my change is terrifying other people. And their way of responding is to demonize me, call me names and point their fingers. They don’t need to be held accountable if I’m the one who’s crazy for doing something they only wish they had the guts to do.
This happens with minimalism too. And the book I just finished reading, which I highly recommend is: Everything That Remains by The Minimalists. Among countless seeds of wisdom, Joshua talks about the fear of getting rid of “things” and what non-consumerism brings up for others.
People have to question their own actions, beliefs and ways of being when other people in their lives embrace a new way of living.
It happened when I became clean and sober 12 years ago. People who couldn’t stop using naturally fell away from my life. I expect the same will happen now, it’s already happening!
When I mentioned my upcoming vanlife decision to my neighbor she rolled her eyes and said “you’re NOT moving into a van”! While I see this as minimizing, invalidating and not listening (let alone hearing), I decided to let it be a lesson instead. Don’t tell people who can’t be supportive.
My family, my neighbors and quite a few of my acquaintances are not my “audience” and by audience I mean support group—people who have the same values, ideals and passions as I do.
And that’s okay. I don’t have to listen to all the people proclaiming “you’re going to be homeless” or “you’re giving up a good career” or “you’re crazy” and whatever other fears and negativities they want to push on me.
I don’t have to accept their stories or their drama. I’m confident and secure in my choices today.
When I started writing and publishing in 2016 I had friends and family “begging” for copies of my novels. They ALL wanted to read what I was writing. And you know what? I sent free copies to almost 100 people. Guess how many read them? ONE. One person read my books. And that’s when I learned that my friends and family will never be my “audience” and that’s okay. They wanted to read a book I wrote, they may have even intended to read it, but they never did because the truth is, they don’t read the genre I write. The only thing that interested any of them was the fact that they knew someone who had written a book.
It happened again recently when I posted a cover for a new book under a new pen name on facebook. I got dozens of requests and yes I spent the 2 hours it took to send my book to a new set of 50+ people that I knew would never read it. And I was right, only one person read it and not the same person as the first time, someone else. I only make the download available for 2 weeks so if I person doesn’t download it and tries later, they’ll have to ask me for it again. It’s been well over a month and no one has asked. I check the downloads periodically and less than 5% ever even click on the link. Are people all talk? Kind of. Should I hold that against them? If I want to, but that won't change the outcome and takes up too much of my time and energy. Instead I move on, keep writing and producing and growing while focusing on the positive. I gave those friends and family what they thought they wanted (access to my books) and they failed. Once they’ve failed, they never ask again :) It’s an important lesson for all of us. 1. Don’t have big expectations and 2. Don’t ask a friend for something they’ve written that you’re not going to read!!!
I hope this inspires you, helps you in some way. I hope you can forgive those in your life who don't understand you or emotionally support you. I hope you can fill your life with encouragers instead of naysayers. But when you encounter naysayers (and you will) know this is their baggage and not yours. You are living the dreams they didn't have the courage to live. Follow your dreams and if you can't find support from anyone around you, please reach out to me! :)
~ by KA
***I do include affiliate Amazon links in some of my posts. If you click on books or products I recommend, and purchase them I will receive a few cents but it will not cost you anything extra. You are not required to purchase anything through any of the links I provide! But if you choose to, I thank you!
Hi, I'm Kimberly Anne! (aka K.A.)
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