One of our greatest days is the one in which we decide that our life is our own. Things certainly don’t start out that way. We come into the world as the child of a parent or parents. Everything anyone thinks or says about you is based on things they know or at least believe about you based on your family. That can be a real gift in those early years of life. Since people don’t judge a young child on their own merit, you can, and do, tend to lean on and rely on your own family for a lot of what people believe about you.
Your reputation in life starts out being based on who your family is. You rely on them without even realizing it. In a negative way, you can even blame them for things that you actually do, especially if some members of your family have less than stellar reputations.
Of course, it works the other way around. I remember some of the kids from rich families. Among other things, their families all belonged to the yacht club. As someone who occasionally was an invited guest at functions at the yacht club, I shared some of these expectations, based almost entirely on what I believed about these people based on this one indicator of their family’s income. One other thing about these families who belonged to the yacht club-most of them owned boats! One thing that imputed status in a community on Lake Erie was owning a boat—especially for those of us for whom this was something we could never imagine our families being able to do.
I guess I could say the same about people whose families owned businesses in our town. The group I most closely identified with was the group who had a parent who was a teacher. My father was a teacher, and a lot of my friends and acquaintances had parents who were teachers. As I reflect on that period in my life, I have to admit that reality shaped a lot of my view of myself and the world I was a part of.
With these and other factors as a starting place, life becomes more and more about the choices we make regarding the things that are important to us. These choices and the outcomes they lead to become more and more integral to the process of decisions we make to make our life our own.
These decisions can include classes we take in school, extracurricular activities that allow us to discover and refine new interests into skills. Some of the obvious decisions we make include what we do post high school. It might be college or technical school. It could be service in the military. Your choice might be getting a job or becoming an apprentice. There really are infinite choices in the decision to live a life that is our own. These can include who we go through life with, where will live as well as a number of other choices.
As we move forward, we can see more and more how the choices we make tend to reflect what is important to us as we act out our ongoing quest to live a life that is our own. As we look back on our early life, it is interesting to reflect on where those decisions have taken us.
As we move forward, how does where we are now compare to where we were? Now that our life is truly our own, how accurately does it reflect what is really important to us? What can we do today to ensure that the life we are living is really our own?