From the Archives:
SOCIETY’S WAY ISN’T THE ONLY WAY
By Megan Mottola | Nov 5 2015 12:16PM
What are you doing with your life? What do you want to do when you get older? You can’t go to school for that; they make no money. What are you going to school for? When are you getting married? Are you in a relationship? Why not? You know X job makes the most money, so why don’t you do that? You have to go to college.
Any of these sound familiar? Do you ever feel so bombarded my society’s messages? Constantly telling us what we should and shouldn’t be doing. How we should and shouldn’t be living our life. I know I have felt that way often. I grew up with my parents telling me that as long as I was happy, then that’s all that mattered. I am so grateful for that because I never felt pushed by them. But surrounding myself with peers, their parents, and just society in general, I felt differently about that.
I started losing sight of what my heart wanted and put myself in situations that made me so incredibly unhappy. At the time, it seemed like sacrificing my happiness at the expense of society was a good idea. If it meant I would graduate in 4 years with a 4.0 and make enough money to get married, buy a house, and a have a family then I was going to do it. But inside, something always felt off. Everything I did felt so incongruent to who I truly was. I felt like such an outsider; my heart in many places that my body wasn’t.
What the Heart Wants
As many of my readers know, I coped with a lot of my past with my eating disorder. I felt like I had to stay silent in this society. God forbid I speak up about how I truly felt or that I didn’t want to go to college right away and I didn’t want to be a lawyer or a doctor, then I’d be considered a failure. Being destructive with my body became my new language and it served as a way out from all of the craziness of societal standards. “But I’m sick” became my go to and I wasn’t expected to do anything except recover. But there is so much more to recovery than just recovery. Throughout my recovery, I learned what it was my heart truly wanted. I learned that to stay silent only kept me sick and if I wanted to live my life how I imagined, I had to start speaking up and doing things regardless of what others and society thought of me.
It took a long time for me to accept the journey that felt right for me. It isn’t set in stone and there’s always room for change, but my heart finally feels at peace. I recently wrote something on Facebook that I wanted to share with my readers.
Teddy Roosevelt was right, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I am always stuck comparing my path in life to the life society has laid out for most of us. And then it got me thinking. I am 24 years old — no degree yet and have left school more than I thought I would. But who knows where I would be right now had I not taken this route. I’ve done nothing according to society. I was a straight A student my entire life, and then things hit me. I couldn’t be the perfectionist anymore. I couldn’t drown myself with the beliefs (that) society threw at me constantly of having to be better better better; that I wasn’t doing enough. I was unhappy with so many things. My struggling increased. I felt everything I was doing was so incongruent to what I wanted and what I believed. So I decided to travel. I traveled far and I traveled a lot. I traveled to learn more about myself, others, and the world. I traveled to teach myself self-love and compassion. I traveled to find my heart and listen to it.
Travel and Learn
So no, I haven’t taken society’s route to my life. Instead, I have be able to travel more than half of the United States living out of suitcase always waiting for my next adventure. I am not a complacent person. They say home is where the heart is, but my heart lies all around and the heart can’t be tamed, only followed. That’s what I finally did.
As a result, I’ve met some of the most selfless and beautiful humans who I would have never had the chance to meet if I hadn’t taken the road I, not society, wanted to take. I had the opportunities to heal myself and get to know myself for all that I am. I have learned more about myself and the world than any class could have taught me. I have learned that without self-love, life will be difficult. I have learned that life is not perfect and no plan ever goes accordingly, but if you learn to go with the flow and take an adventure once in a while, things will be way more exciting and worth it. I found the power of yoga and meditation while exploring and living in Maine and that lobster should only be eaten in New England. I know that Utah is way too big to explore in a short period of time and a second trip is in order.
I know that the random person I talked to at the bus stop in North Carolina has a story and they want someone to hear it. I know that the people I served food to at the homeless shelter in Arizona are trying their hardest to make changes in their lives. I know the barista in the coffee shop in Oregon loves to converse and memorized my order by day 3. I know that Boston is way too expensive for me to live, but there’s a cafe that gives shots of cupcake frosting, so that is pretty damn cool. I know the girls I met in treatment in Pennsylvania have hopes and dreams that they will accomplish because they chose recovery. I know the woman at the airport in Chicago is changing parents lives with her mommy blog that is known nationwide (speaking of Chicago Airport, its crazy light walkway was trippy as fuck).
I know that the mountains in Colorado from above are absolutely breathtaking and that weed shops in Washington State are not at all what I expected them to be. I know what heartbreak feels like, but I know what love feels like too. I know that nature doesn’t wait for you to experience it. It happens and if you don’t stop to smell the flowers, you’ll miss the simple pleasures in life. I’ve realized that even with minimal money, adventures can happen and it’ll be difficult but it will make you be grateful for what you have instead of wishing for things you don’t have. I’ve been on my death bed, wondering if things would ever change, feeling inadequate and like a failure and I’ve been at the other end, feeling full of life and all of the experiences I have had the privilege of being a part of, living and embracing each and every moment — taking none of it for granted. And the best part is, this is just the beginning. How many people can say that?
Make Your Own Path
So no, I am not a failure for taking longer than others or not being where I “should” be in my life according to society. I am alive and that says a hell of a lot. I am exactly where I need to be and that is good enough. I am good enough. I have gained more life experience than any college degree could ever give me. You are exactly where you need to be. And always remember — whether you may have taken longer than others, completely chose a different path, figured college isn’t for you, left a job you absolutely hated — you are still worthy and deserve happiness. Don’t let society convince you otherwise. Keep doing you, and be proud of yourself.
Always follow YOUR heart. Stay true to YOU. Make your life what you WANT it to be not what you feel it should be. Do not sacrifice your happiness at the expense of others. Live fully. Live proud. Society’s way is not the only way to life. Listen to your heart. Follow it and embrace it. You only get one life, and it’s worth living.
Love and light always,
About the Author:
Meg Mottola, 26, is an east coaster but a traveler at heart. After taking time off and traveling a bit, she is currently pursuing a degree in Psychology. Beyond that she plans on getting her Master’s in Sports Psychology. She’s also in recovery from a 7+ year battle with Anorexia and Compulsive Exercise. Aside from writing for the foundation, Meg enjoys hiking with her twin, yoga, jamming on the guitar, and photography. She believes the key to life is to surround yourself with positivity. You can follow her Instragram, @meggmott, where she posts pictures of adventures with her girlfriend, her love for nature, and much more!