My life completely changed the day I told my father I didn't want to run the family business.
Being a son to a father that has showed nothing but the most unconditional love for his children, telling my father I wanted to go against one of his biggest wishes was a life-altering moment for me.
I come from a Middle American family home. The American Dream, essentially. I had an older brother who looked out for me and a little sister that I could care for. My parents remained together in my childhood and carry on their relationship to this day. Of course, as a family we had our struggles, yet all in all, things were pretty good.
I was of the first generation in my family to go to University. My parents tried to guide me through the experience and they didn't know how seeing as they didn't attend themselves.
Before I went away to school, my father suggested that I get a business degree seeing as I would be running the family business some day. I couldn't wrap my head around as to why.
But I'm not the oldest son. Why should I have this responsibility to carry the family forward with this business?
This isn't fair. I've tried harder, academically, than my siblings. Shouldn't that be a case that I am destined for other things?
Why is my father so overbearing and doesn't want me to follow the dreams that may be in my head?
The questions rolled on and on.
After I graduated from University, I felt I would be trapped in a life I would hate. I had a friend that was living in another city about 1000 miles from where I grew up (I grew up in Chicago and my friend was in Boston).
He told me of an opportunity to move into the house he was living in.
I immediately took the opportunity to get out of this planned life.
I packed up my car and moved to Boston.
After a few months of living there. It dawned on me that my problem of not telling my father the truth was still weighing on me. I couldn't run from the problem forever.
I needed to tell him how I truly felt.
After much deliberation, I worked up the courage to call him. I called him on what was a fairly normal Saturday morning. The subject hadn't been brought up in recent days and he had no idea what was on my mind.
As the phone was ringing. My mind was racing with different thoughts on how the conversation would go.
Was my father going to disown me? I was going against one of his biggest wishes.
Would I be able to talk with him again?
Did he ultimately expect that this conversation would come up at some point?
Would my relationship be forever changed with him?
The last question turned out to be the only question that would hold the gravity to change my life forever.
When he finally answered, I told him the truth.
I told him that I had been disingenuous with him.
I told him that when I said I would probably come home and run the business someday, I didn't mean it.
I told him that I don't see myself ever running the business someday.
I told him that I loved him.
I told him that I was sorry that I couldn't uphold his wish.
I cried for the first time in my adult hood. I released all the emotions that I had bottled up inside me. I released all the fear I kept in telling him the truth.
After what seemed like an hour long pause. My father began to laugh.
He said, “That's great man. You need to do what you think you should do in this life. Of course I have wishes for you and I have an idea of what I think you should do in this life. At the end of the day, that's what it is though, your life. I wasn't given the luxury of a choice. My father dragged me with him to the shop to groom me into running it. I don't want to make the same mistake he made with you. It's your life. Live it how you see fit. I'll be here for you.”
In that moment, my life changed forever.
I felt a new lease on life. I felt as if opportunities opened up in that moment.
I used to shy away from meeting new people. I would think, well I shouldn't build too much of a relationship with them, before too long I'll be moving back to run my father's business.
I didn't want to fall in love with anyone. I couldn't imagine the torment that would ensue with having to leave them in order to run the business.
In that moment, I was given a blank canvas on how to color my life.
I learned many lessons in that moment.
I learned that the truth will set you free (as cliche as it is).
I toiled for months thinking about the right time to tell him and what the repercussions would be. I thought about my life without this monkey on my back. I thought about the anger he might send my way. I thought and thought and thought. There was no end. I stayed in my head and let the torment run my life. Finally, after I told him the truth, I had a new lease on life.
I learned to put myself out in front of people more. To bear my insecurities with others.
Family is the most important thing in life. If you are blessed as I am, family will have your back over all others on this planet. With that, having gone through such a vulnerable and honest moment with my father, doing the same with friends and acquaintances has come much easier. I know to put myself, my true self, in front of people. I did it with one of the most important people in my life. If others won't accept it, their loss.
I learned there are things in life to clear up with others in order to give yourself the landscape to follow your passions.
I've always wanted to write. Since I was a kid, I pictured being an author. Well, for a bit of a stretch there was a moment I thought I was going to be a Matador. That dream died when I wasn't living in Spain. As I got older, I felt that there was no point in following this dream. Why should I work hard at something, put in long hours and stretch my mind to places when I already have my life figured out for me. Once I cleared up this “plan” I have gone full speed into writing and haven't looked back.
I learned you cannot think for other people.
For months I put thoughts in my father's head. I created different narratives of what was going to be the outcome and how he was thinking. I made assumptions that he knew how I felt even though I didn't tell him anything. These were big mistakes to make. I understand now how much I need to voice my concerns with people and I cannot assume their attitudes on any matter.
I learned that fears are usually perceived as bigger than they actually are.
Telling my father I didn't want to uphold one of his biggest wishes terrified me to death. I thought I was going to be disowned. I thought he would hate me. I thought so many things that kept me from taking action. When I finally looked at those fears for what they were and overcame them, I realized how much I was in my head. Taking action and getting out of your head is a very empowering thing.
I have to say, this was the biggest moment that changed my personality. It set me free. It helped me start my life on and take action on what keeps me up at night. To fight the voices in my head of what I was put on this earth to do.