Often, the struggle we face in our lives is between what other people want from us and what we actually want for ourselves.
When we are young, we are told that we can be anything we want to be when we grow up, but, as we get older, we are also told that we must conform to expectations in order to fit in, get ahead, and be successful. Over time, we discover that what we want to do is not necessarily the same as what we must do, nor is who we want to be necessarily the same as who we must be. As the realities of life creep in, these lines begin to blur and it is easy to lose sight of who we were before we were told who to be.
The more responsibilities we acquire in our lives, the more difficult we may find it is to separate what is needed to satisfy others from what is needed to satisfy ourselves. As we struggle to find balance, there is always a risk of moving too far in one direction or another. If we move too far toward expectations, we may lose our own identity, but if we move too far away from them, we may lose our community, but we need both.
The goal should be to pursue and embrace the ideas, traits, and desires that make us unique in a way that also benefits the people around us, such that we are adding value to and also influencing our community though our creativity, passions, and perspectives, not in spite of them. If our community does not support us in this, we have to determine whether it is our ideas or our environment that needs to change, making sure that we move forward in the direction of what is healthy, righteous, and true.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a founding member of the Severna Park and Baltimore Holistic Chamber of Commerce.
Photo taken by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.
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