That which does not kill me can only make me stronger
(That’s for real)
and I don’t see why everybody feel as though
they gotta tell me how to live my life
(You know?)
Let me live baby, let me live.

– Tupac Shakur

Ask yourself the simple question: “Do I believe that what I’m doing is right and does it pass the tests of my beliefs and values?”

I’m not talking about ethical issues, because this isn’t an ethics class. I’m not gonna talk about things that should be obvious (and because they’re obvious, I don’t need to mention them). But I will speak about the things we face in life, the drama people cause, the struggles we face internally, and externally with others.

In life, you will find that there are going to be a lot of people ready to judge you, to spread negative things about you, and to try to ruin your image. Especially if you are in a more public eye. But, always ask yourself that above question, and believe in yourself.

I find that this is something that we all need to consider in every moment of our lives. Make these things your mindset, in order for you to succeed. I’m not saying this is a law of any sort, but in my opinion, staying true to yourself always keeps you grounded.

This concept and understanding is something relevant to many aspects of life:

Business

In business, you will without doubt, be faced with these sorts of issues, people giving you a variety of opinions on how you should do things, people trying to shut you down before you even get started, etc, etc. But, regardless of what happens, you need to do what you believe is right, what abides to your vision, and what makes you happy. Now, that doesn’t mean you should live life closed-minded. It means to be open to hearing other people’s thoughts when you need a second or third opinion, and to always remember that you should be the one with the final say in your decision. BUT, be careful as to who you ask. Keep a small group of people in your life as your go-to people, that you turn to when you’re unsure of something. For me, I have my two best friends (they know who they are 🙂 ), another friend who’s like a brother to me (he knows himself too haha) my parents and sisters, and well, that’s it. Of course, when I get married God-willing, I’d want to add my wife to that list. But, you get the point.

Also, another point that I would suggest is to not talk about your ideas, or your plans, until after you’re on your way to working on them. For example, if you’re going to start a business, don’t go telling everyone all the details of your idea. That’s how you get naysayers and idea-theives excited haha. Just do your thing, keep it to yourself, and then, when ready, launch your idea. 🙂

Friends

Often, for the sake of keeping someone around, or not losing a “friend”, we sacrifice what we believe in. We change ourselves, just to make sure that we don’t lose someone we think is important to us. But, a true friend – and I speak out of experience of going through many of the so-called “true” friends – is that person that stands by you, and gives you that unconditional love, regardless of what you do. He/She wouldn’t ask you to change. Wouldn’t make you feel bad about who you are. A friend tells you, “I will always be here, to help you through your life, and I’d expect the same from you.” When you think about it like that, you realize, you could filter out most of your friends, and find the few remaining ones that are worth your effort. And when a person makes that effort to be a good friend, let them. Friendship is not a right. It’s deserved. I think most things are, and friendship sure is one of those things.

Relationships

When it comes to relationships, the concept is similar to that of friends (mentioned above). A partner has to be your friend. Otherwise, it won’t work. At least not in my opinion. You have to be able to be best friends. This is that person that you’ll be sharing your most intimate moments with, the person who will make you whole.*

Friendship is the first step, and so, in the same way, the person your soul connects to in that way should be willing to embrace you as you are, no matter how you change. So, be you, work hard towards your visions and work hard towards your relationship. Yes, relationships are in need of compromises at times, but at no cost, in my opinion, should we change ourselves at the core-level.

* Sidenote: Yes, your partner, the person you end up with, should make you whole. But, if God-forbid, things don’t work out between you two, remember that there’s a reason for everything. Also, don’t become dependant on that person. Make them a choice, not the source of vulnerability.

Family

This is that group of people that will often drive you nuts with their input, or will confuse you with their opinions on how you should do things. But, in the end, remember that they are the same people who will stand by you regardless of what happens. (There are very rare situations where this isn’t the case, but trust me, chances are you’re not in one of those situations.) I have personally been through so many struggles in life, sometimes clashing with my family, but in the end, they were the ones that stood by me.

When I speak of family, I’m speaking of your direct family. Not necessarily your extended family. Your direct family knows you best, considering they have probably spent more time with you than other relatives.

When your family suggests things to you, or tells you their thoughts on something, it’s best to consider what they are saying, and then make your own decision. They are saying what they say often out of the goodness of their hearts. Even if you don’t like what they say, thank them for their opinion and then make your decision. Nothing in this world is worth breaking bonds with family, except your religious beliefs. Then to, don’t break the bonds completely, but continue being kind to them.

Personal Growth

This is a major struggle many of us face. As we grow, we develop not only physically, but mentally and soulfully as well. These latter developments are in fact the things that make us who we are. As we grow, we realize that certain things matter more to us than others, and so, we develop an affection towards those things. These things may be inclusive of spirituality, diet, morality, passions, and more. It is important that we take these aspects of our lives and allow them to grow naturally within ourselves. Time is something constant, and so, it is best for us to work with time as it comes. Rushing growth will only stunt it. Instead, take the changes your experiences, the growth you endure, and make the most of them. If you fall in the process of that growth, then so be it. Don’t concern yourself with the pain the fall caused you, because that pain will become your focus. Instead, concern yourself with how you can take that fall and learn from it: What lead to the fall, and how can I avoid that next time? How can I get up from this fall faster next time? etc.

Life will throw you difficulties. Don’t let those difficulties hit you. Instead, catch them and throw them back at life. 🙂

So, in the end…

It’s a simple matter of staying true to yourself. Ask yourself if what you do will result in something that will make you happy and will help you towards your ultimate goals. Ask yourself if who you are will compromised by taking that different step. Ask yourself if you are ready to take on that challenge and make those changes you need to make if necessary, in order for you to reach your goals.

Who you are will without doubt change during your lifetime, but let that change come naturally from within, not from your concerns for the judgments of other people.

The decision is only for God

[Quran, Chapter al-An’aam 6:57]