Stop Waiting for Permission to Live the Life You Want to Live

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” ~Unknown

I know you.

You’re smart. You’re driven. You’re a “good girl/boy.” You found out a long time ago that life goes more smoothly for people who follow the rules, so you learned the rulebook inside out.

People expected things from you and you made it your job to live up to those expectations—and probably beat yourself up inside when you fell short.

But now you’re stuck, the way anyone who has spent their life making other people happier than they make themselves gets stuck.

You wish you could go back to school to study what you really love doing, or maybe you want to start your own business, or buy a camper and drive cross-country, or move to a big city. Or quit your high-stress, high-paying job and instead do simpler work for less money that makes you look forward to getting out of bed every day.

And every once in a while, when you’re not busy getting your to-do list checked off or giving your time to the people in your life who always seem to need you—when things get real quiet—you feel absolutely desperate.

You hear the clock ticking, and it’s the ticking off of the moments of a life that’s passing you by.

You see a whole string of days ahead of you. Out of bed. Off to work. Watch the clock. Count the hours ‘til the weekend. Rejoice on Friday evening. Lament on Sunday night. Repeat.

Nothing new. Nothing real. Nothing joyful.

You know, somewhere inside you, that there has to be more than this.

I know you. I am you.

I realized not long ago that I’ve spent my entire life waiting for permission. Because I’m a good girl, you see. In my twenties I felt the burning desire in my heart for something more than a go-nowhere nine-to-five office job and the bar on the weekends.

I wanted a career as a singer. Travel. Excitement. Adventure. Heart-stopping moments of bliss.

And I wanted somebody—anybody—to tell me that it was okay, that I should go ahead with it. I don’t mean Oprah or some random person speaking to the masses. I wanted somebody who knew me to give me the green light.

Guess what? It never happened, and it never will. Why? Because nobody can give us permission but ourselves.

Nobody outside ourselves knows what’s going on in our hearts, no matter how we try to explain.

Have you ever found this to be true? You can try and try, but there’s a nuance, a depth of desire, that’s impossible to describe. It has to be felt, and nobody else can feel it but the person whose heart is burning.

So we wait. We wait for permission. Many of us die waiting for it.

I don’t want to die waiting for it. Do you?

It’s time for us to come out of our shells and admit that we want more. Let’s be honest with each other and ourselves about what we want out of life. Let’s truly support each other and push each other and not take any excuses.

And let’s stop taking guff from the rest of the world—the ones who are still too afraid to leave the status quo behind. If that’s really what they want, let’s bless them and then move the heck on, because life is too short to be wasted on wondering what somebody else thinks of us.

We simply have to be the heroes of our own lives. I’m willing to dust off my cape and step into that role.

Are you?

Here are some bits of resistance that will probably come up for you once you decide to reclaim your hero status (because you were totally the hero of your own life when you were a kid; you just forgot. Don’t worry; it’s totally cool. Most of us forget!):

This is too hard.

No, it’s not easy. But what’s easier—living a beige life for endless (yet all-too-short) years, or accepting discomfort in the present in order to live the technicolor dream life we yearn for?

There comes a time when we have to move through what’s hard in order to get to “What took me so long to get started?” This is growth, and growth can be uncomfortable, but it’s always worthwhile.

I’m too old to get started.

This logic makes absolutely no sense, yet I’m willing to bet there’s no one who hasn’t told themselves this at some point.

Guess what? If school is going to take you four, five, six years, you’ll just get that much older anyway, whether or not you to go to school. Wouldn’t you rather be happier and feel more accomplished at that point, or would you rather just feel older?

What will ______ think?

Listen, nothing anybody does or thinks or says to or about us has anything to do with us. It’s all about their own hang-ups, insecurities, and jealousies.

We all apply the filter of our own experiences to what we see other people doing with their lives, and chances are our interpretation of even the people closest to us is way off-base.

People won’t accept me.

I can’t even be flippant about this because you’re probably right. There will likely be at least one person who can’t get on-board with your authentic vision for your life. But you know what? For every one person who can’t understand you, there are fifty people who will—you just haven’t met them yet.

This isn’t the right time.

Fact: There will never be a right time. Waiting for the right time is just a form of procrastination that stems from fear. Now is the time to get moving. You’ll figure things out as you go.

Am I crazy?

No. You’re finally sane. It’s the version of you who believed life was meant to be a boring slog-fest that was crazy.

Is this even worth it?

Yes. A million times, yes.

So. You ready? Let’s do this. Let’s reclaim our dreams and when we do we’ll inspire others to do the same.

Because life is too short to be spent waiting for permission to get started.

About Jennifer Bardall

Jennifer Bardall believes that life is best lived on purpose. Her book, Delicious, describes her battle with emotional binge eating and encourages others to put down the fork and pick up their life.

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