It was the last day of my senior year of high school and I was about to part ways with a friend who I wouldn’t see again for almost ten years. As we hugged goodbye she said to me: “Ally, in all the years I’ve known you I’ve never known anyone to be angry with you. Not one person.”
Her words were telling.
I was a leader, but a quiet leader, the kind who leads with influence over control, compassion and kindness over intimidation, and loyalty over justice — which all sounds really sweet until you start talking about boundaries. The part of the story you couldn’t have seen, without a better view into the situation, was that no one hated me because I wouldn’t let them.
I’d hate myself before I’d let anyone hate me.
I’d rather be unhappy than disliked.
Fast forward a bunch of years and I have better “boundaries” now than ever. I’ve learned to say no, to talk about my “feelings” and not to commit to things just to make other people proud of me, to keep them happy. At least I thought I had.
So how come, this past week, at STORY, I felt such a well of freedom bubble up when Bob Goff told me that it was okay to quit something. “These things over here” he kept saying, “the ones that give you life and make you the best version of you, keep doing them! But these ones over here,” he would move to another part of the stage, “quit those things.”
Jump the tracks, he kept telling us.
Later, when he signed my copy of Love Does I told him that the most powerful thing that he had done for me, through his book and his message, was give me permission to be who I was. It’s like he was saying, “Who cares who hates you! If they hate you for being who God made you to be, they never really liked you anyway! Forget about them!”
Not everyone needs an excuse to dismiss people, but if you’re like me — addicted to the approval of others, so much that you’ll give up whatever it takes (your car, your couch, your first-born) to get just a second of relief — you do. That’s what an addict does.
I don’t want to be an addict anymore.
Do you need permission, like I did, to just be you? Do you need permission to break free from the expectations of those around you? To disappoint the unrealistic expectations you had for yourself? Do you need permission to do what you love? What energizes you? Do you need permission to jump the tracks?
Let me give it to you.
Here you go. Here it is.
Go do what you want to do. Stop trying to figure out how everyone is going to respond, and just do it. I promise it will feel scary. Your voice will shake. You will feel awkward. People will dislike you. In fact, you will likely watch looks of disappointment fall over the faces of those you love when you tell them that you can’t be responsible for their happiness anymore —
When you tell them you don’t want to be a doctor, or that you’re not going back to school, or that you can’t keep making excuses for their bad behavior. I don’t know your specific story, but I know this: This world needs who you are.
Not the pretend you, the real one.
Question: What stopping you from being the real version of you? Why haven’t you quit?