Time to Grow A Pair – Manning up to Criticism

We followed a beautifully unbeaten path down to the majestic Merced River in Yosemite Valley. Sometimes some people scream at you when you take the road less travelled by.


Swan diving into Costa Rica is nerve-racking business for this uptight redhead.  You see, I was that annoying kid in school that followed every rule and got perfect grades.  I couldn’t have been more conformist if my life depended on it.  Contrast my strategy of yesteryear with my current game plan to abandon every piece of career-conventional advice ever offered me and you’ll understand I’ve overstepped my comfort zone a few parsecs.

To those around me, I perhaps seemed responsible and motivated, but I think a more honest assessment would be to say that I have a problem.  For as long as I can remember, I have placed what I now consider an unhealthily high value on other people’s opinions of me.  If others thought I was great, then I was allowed to think so too.  If not, then first order of business was figuring out how to please them, hardly stopping to think if it might please me.  I learned early on that winning praise from adults was easier than from kids, and so my nerdiness blossomed.

Don’t get me wrong, heeding the advice of wise elders is a good thing.  My problem is that the conformist lifestyle has turned me into a spineless pansy that wilts at every wisp of criticism.   When I tell responsible people I’m moving my young family to Costa Rica with no job or house prospects to speak of, I tend to stress out when they call me insane.  I’m slowly coming to grips that this criticism will unlikely cease so long as I’m bolting down this road less travelled by.  So, I am faced with a simple choice.  I can either tuck my tail and retrace my steps back to the well-worn path of a conventional career, or I can grow a pair.

My current predicament started one glorious day when I realized I didn’t have to live by all the same rules others had set for themselves.  I saw a different road diverging off into the yellow wood, and I took it, deciding for myself what path might lead to my happiness.  This awakening to a respect for my own opinion of me has made all the difference, but my conditioned hypersensitivity to criticism remains.

I guess I’m writing this post to convince myself that it is okay to not please everybody all of the time.  That’s impossible.  I just need to do my best to please myself, and my wonderfully supportive wife whenever possible.  Of course, she would tell you Costa Rica was all her idea.

P.S.  I don’t mean to give the false impression that it’s all opposition and naysaying hurled my way.  A lot of people really resonate with what we’re trying to do.  I tell them I’m diving headlong into the Costa Rican unknown with my young family and their crazy eyes light up with one fantastic question after another, spurring on the most thrilling conversations.  After talking with these people, I feel like I can do anything.  Thank you!

P.P.S.  I blame the vulgar title on my wife.  Unfortunately she had to go and strongly suggested I omit the “grow a pair” verbiage from this post, which means now I have to make that the title.

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