Don’t Follow Someone Else’s Path

Toastmasters allows me to get a little glimpse into the lives of my fellow club members. Sometimes it is a superficial glance, which tells me they’re private and don’t desire to open themselves up in work conference rooms among their peers (legit). Sometimes though I get to know them a little better. I hear about how their child has changed their perspective or how their curiosity drives them. Today an intern spoke and I found myself taking notes- thinking this is how I should be living.

We live in a world surrounded by advice on how to better oneself. Articles on empowerment flood my Facebook feed. I see numerous inspiration quotes every time I open Instagram. My coworkers hang signs on their cubicle walls reminding them be thankful or be strong. But this intern shared advice from her grandmother who learned her guidance the old-fashioned way, by living it.

Don’t follow anyone else’s path… unless you’re lost in the woods and you’re alone and you see a path. Then you should take it.


There’s some simple, country advice if I’ve ever heard it. And it couldn’t be farther from my reality.  I’m not a trailblazer. Every leap I’ve ever taken I’ve checked to make sure someone else has tried it first. I want to see you safely jump into the water before I peek over the edge.

  • Study Abroad- friend loved the city, went for it
  • Backpacking in Australia- went through a program that a friend recommended, even though a program is wildly unnecessary
  • Moved to Austin- moved on recommendation only

My biggest example of risky behavior: sky diving. 

But of course it always comes back to writing. I look to my friends and their experiences as a safety net. If they can do it, I can do it. I can follow their path. I’ll do what they do.

This isn’t how it works. If I am to find my own voice and my own success I cannot remain stationary at the starting point, watching and waiting as others clear the brush and debris, stepping out only when the path is paved. The path for me will be paved at parts, rocky and uphill at times but I will always be the only one who can get me there. If I try to follow someone else’s path, I won’t end up where I’m supposed to be.

This week was one of those moments when you hear something you’ve heard a thousand times before but for the first time I felt like I was listening.



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