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Breaking Free: How to Forge Your Own Path and Defy Parental Expectations

Are you tired of living up to your parents' expectations and yearning for the freedom to pursue your own dreams? Do you feel guilty or unsure in your decision making when you go against “the plan” laid out for you? Then it’s time to break free from the constraints and societal pressures that have been placed upon you and forge your own path.

A sign stating break free with an arrow beneath the text.

Life is hard, that’s not a secret. It’s difficult to know how your current decision will effect your future experience. No one wants to make a wrong move and pay for it later down the road. In a perfect world, we’d wake up each day with all the answers but that’s not how the world works. Life is about taking chances, making mistakes, and discovering what is truly important to us. However, no parent wants to see their child fail or get hurt. They want what’s best for us and may impede on what actually makes us happy for what they believe is the “greater good.”

In this blog article, we'll explore the transformative journey of going against parental expectations and discovering your true path to fulfillment. Whether it's choosing a different career, pursuing unconventional passions, or embracing a lifestyle that diverges from the norm - we'll provide you with valuable insights and practical steps to navigate this challenging but rewarding process.

So get ready to embark on a personal revolution and carve out a future that aligns with your own desires and aspirations. It's time to embrace your individuality and chart a course that leads to authentic happiness.

The Villain of Your Story Isn’t So Evil

Before we get into the practical steps, it’s important to note that most parents aren’t villains. They’re usually just trying to look out for you. They want to protect you from the world, keep you from repeating mistakes they made in the past, and help you succeed in life. The problem is, their definition of success doesn’t necessarily align with yours.

Most of the older generations believe having a prestigious job, tons of money, a fancy home and car, expensive belongings, and your own family equals success. We know that’s not true but the pressures of this lifestyle still weighs heavy on our shoulders.

Our generation has created jobs out of hobbies (and practically out of thin air), we live in tiny homes or travel the world while working from our laptops, we’re having children and getting married later in life, and we’re working on our mental health and discovering what makes us truly happy in life.

But artists don’t make money. Haven’t you heard of the starving artist?

Youtuber? Social media marketer? Those aren’t real jobs.

Books get published every day, who will read yours?

Sound familiar?

It’s hard to go for your passion when the people you love and trust are constantly telling you it’s an awful decision that you’ll regret in a year. Also, this constant tension can cause you to resent them and distance yourself from them. Usually, what parents really mean (while they’re trampling on our dreams and desires) is “get a good paying job so you don’t struggle like I did.” Parents often don’t realize their words are prolonging your happiness and your real success. But you can prove them wrong by going for it anyway and reaching your dreams despite what they say.

There will always be people like this in our life trying to tell us how to do things even when they don’t know themselves. It’s up to us to find the good advice and ignore the rest. And we owe it to ourselves to never give up.

How to Break Free

Step 1 - Self-Reflection

Take the time to reflect on your own values, interests, and aspirations. Understand what you truly want for your life, separate from your parents' expectations. Identify your passions, strengths, and goals.

If you’re having trouble figuring this out on your own, we’ve provided the below graphic that includes 10 questions you can ask yourself to find these answers:

A graphic providing 10 questions to ask yourself for self-reflection.

Step 2 - Communication

Initiate an open and honest conversation with your parents. Find an appropriate time and place to discuss your feelings and desires. Clearly express your thoughts, concerns, and the reasons behind your decisions. Be prepared for possible resistance or disagreement.

Active Listening

Give your parents an opportunity to express their thoughts and concerns. Show empathy and try to understand their perspective. Avoid becoming defensive and stay calm during the conversation. Listening to their point of view can help foster mutual respect and understanding.

Provide Reassurance

Assure your parents that your decisions are not a rejection of their love or values but rather a pursuit of your own happiness and fulfillment. Explain that you have carefully considered your choices and are committed to taking responsibility for your own life.

Step 3 - Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries with your parents is essential in establishing a healthy and balanced relationship with them. While it may feel challenging or uncomfortable at first, it is an important step toward asserting your individuality and fostering mutual respect.

Boundaries can help define what is acceptable and what isn't in terms of communication, personal space, decision-making, and involvement in each other's lives. Remember, boundaries aren’t meant to be rigid walls but rather flexible guidelines that promote healthy interactions with others while preserving your own well-being. By setting and maintaining boundaries, you can cultivate stronger relationships with your parents built on respect, understanding, and mutual growth.

Step 4 - Seek Support

Reach out to friends, mentors, or other family members who may understand your situation and provide guidance or support. Having a support system outside of your parents can be beneficial during this process.

Step 5 - Create a Plan

Develop a well-thought-out plan that outlines your goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them. Consider the potential challenges and obstacles you might face and develop strategies to overcome them. Having a clear roadmap can instill confidence in both yourself and your parents.

Since we know creating a plan out of thin air can be challenging and overwhelming, we created the below graphic to help you develop a plan of action in 4 easy steps:

A graphic on how to develop a plan of action in 4 easy steps

Step 6 - Take Action

Begin taking steps towards your goals, whether it involves pursuing a different career path, choosing a different educational route, or making other lifestyle choices. Demonstrate your commitment and determination through consistent effort and progress.

Step 7 - Patience and Persistence

Going against parental expectations is rarely an overnight process. It may take time for your parents to fully accept and understand your choices. Remain patient, maintain open lines of communication, and continue to demonstrate your dedication and happiness as you pursue your own path. After a while, they will recognize all your hard work and dedication and maybe even become your number 1 fan.

Pink and orange balloons with smiley faces

It’s essential to approach this process with respect, empathy, and a willingness to maintain a healthy relationship with your parents, even if they initially struggle to accept your choices. But in the end, it’s your life and you only get one.

You deserve to live it the way you see fit. You may think your parents know best (and they probably do in some regards) but no one can tell you what will actually make you happy. Only you can figure that out on your own. Suffering in silence for years while doing the “right thing” never helps anyone involved. Go after what makes you feel alive and that’s when you’ll start truly living.


Is anxiety a debilitating force in your life? Has it taken control of your life and left you as a fearful passenger? We have an article that can help. You can start your journey and beat anxiety by checking out our other article, From Fear to Fearless: How to Manage Anxiety and Embrace Opportunities.

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