Today I had a call with a family member, and I excitedly shared some updates about some great work related opportunities, including speaking on a prominent Qigong summit and teaching opportunity at a 5 star retreat center that had come my way that I felt quite proud of. To my shock, this family member was doubtful of my situation, and asked how it was even possible. What continued was a conversation where this family member continued to express disbelief and tried to logically analyze and make sense of the steps I followed that led me into such a ‘lucky situation’.
It really hit home. But as this was someone I dearly cared about, I held back from reacting out of anger or negativity. I actually laughed it off, and remained positive and smiling. Later we talked about our dog, Didi and I reflected on how I noticed my in-laws praised him for the littlest of things, while if he were brought up in Singapore, it would be certain that he would rarely receive praise for his behavior ever.
The conversation led on to a memory of how at the age of 14, for the final year exam I ranked 10th in my class of 42, and how a family member of mine jokingly made a remark that I had ‘just barely made it’. I was surprised that this memory stayed with me so clearly through the years.
Recounting this memory to this family member, I was met with defense, saying it was out of best interests, and that it was just the practice typical of that era, especially in Asian households, to engage in this kind of ‘reverse education’ to push children to prove themselves and outperform.
Later the conversation shifted to something else, but as the call ended I realized something was genuinely not right. It hit me that if I had waited to receive validation from this family member to be courageous and take the actions that led me to be where and who I am today, I would still be waiting.
I was shocked how such a short encounter had affected me energetically, and intentionally took time to clear out the negativity that came through so I could return to my previous positive state.
Sitting down now, feeling calm and with clarity, I decided to write this reflection to crystallize what I learnt from this encounter.
Though I dearly love and respect this family member, I deeply believe this:
No one should have to prove themselves to anyone else.
I don’t have to prove myself to you.
I don’t have to prove myself to my family.
I shouldn’t even have to prove myself to myself.
I have the right to be, to make the choices I make, to be proud of who I am, to celebrate my successes and the work I put in to get to where and who I am today.
Heck, I don’t even need to DO any of this, because I have the right to be alive, and simply BE.
You don’t have to prove yourself to me.
You don’t have to prove yourself to your family.
You shouldn’t even have to prove yourself to yourself.
You have the right to be, to make the choices you make, to be proud of who you are, to celebrate your progress, your successes and the work you put in to get to where and who you are today.
Heck, you don’t even need to DO any of this, because you have the right to be alive, and simply BE.
Whenever you feel you’re in a situation where someone is questioning your progress, doubting the direction you’re taking or belittling who you are or what you’ve done, remember this:
They aren’t you. They don’t see all the work, time, effort you put into it. They don’t know what you went through. Also, if you tried to meet their standards, preferences or expectations, you might never meet it in your lifetime even if you tried, so why bother? And for what? So this person could be happy?
You want to spend your life trying to make someone else happy?
Don’t let anyone rain on your parade.
Don’t wait for validation from someone else to live the life you want, to be the person you already are.
Don’t give away your power.
And most importantly, remember this.
You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. Ever.
Because this is a powerful reminder we all need from time to time.