What you are ready to die for, others don’t even want

It’s European election night as I write this, and I am in Kiev, Ukraine. A few days ago, I visited Independence square, or as they call it here: Maidan Nezalezhnosti. Walking on that square and reading more about what happened here 5 years ago, reminded me that some are willing to die for what others take for granted, or don’t even want.

Euromaidan started November 2013 on the Maidan. It was a wave of demonstrations, sparked by the Ukrainian government's decision to suspend the signing of an association agreement with the European Union. There was more to it, including the perception of widespread government corruption and violation of human rights in Ukraine. The protests culminated in February 2014. More than 100 protesters were killed. Here in Ukraine the victims are often referred to the Heavenly Hundred.

In one country, people get killed for wanting to get closer to the EU. In another, discussions about how to leave the EU continue for months. And the weekend I write this, during election night, a lot of EU citizens have not even bothered to vote.

Regardless of what you think about any of this, it is a reminder that you may be willing to die for something that others don’t care about or don’t even want.
What does that mean for you?
That you should listen to your inner voice.
Don’t doubt it just because others may think differently.

  • Do you want to go for your own business rather than staying in your current job, but you doubt yourself because your colleagues are perfectly happy being employed?
  • Or are you the one loving your job, but feeling as if you should be making a major change?
  • Is everyone around you getting married, expecting you to be too, even if you like your life as single with short relationships?
  • Do you wonder if it is time to get children, even if you don’t feel ready for it?

You will not find the answers by looking at others. They are not you. Only you are you.

Give yourself at least five minutes a day, to listen to your own voice. If you haven’t heard it for a while, be patient. After some practice, the chatter in your head will calm down enough for you to hear it.

You may love what someone else doesn’t care about.
That’s OK.
Figure out what is right for you, regardless of what others do. Then give it all you’ve got.


Become a terror management expert

 “So how will you celebrate your big day?”

Anne smiled at Agnes. The smile put wrinkles around the grey eyes.
Carmel winced.

“Oh please, don’t talk about it. Forty years old. It is hardly something to celebrate, is it?

Anne leaned backwards. They were sitting in her kitchen, having afternoon tea together. Like they did every Wednesday.

“Well, it’s better than the alternative”, she said, with the calm voice Carmel recognized from her childhood, when Anne’s house had been her second home.  

“I know, I know. I am happy to be alive and healthy. But knowing that from now on it will all go downhill… I don’t know, I find it scary. From now on my health will get worse, my parents will need more and more help - they are almost as old as you are – and if I want to change careers it will be hard.”

Anne put her thick grey hair behind her ear, still smiling.

“I know, Carmel continued, “that it seems silly to say that to you. How old are you now?”

“Oh, old enough not to count. Forty-eight is all I remember.”

“Forty-eight? You are in your seventies, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I suppose I am, I was born in nineteen forty-eight so… seventy-one this year.”

“Well, isn’t lonely to be without your parents? And then your hip…”

“I have never been happier.”

Carmel’s eyes widened.

“I used to worry so much. I don’t worry anymore. There is no point. So, I will die soon? What else is new? Meanwhile I can enjoy being with my grandchildren.”

Carmel let her finger trace the rim of the teacup. Anne sensed her embarrassment and gently caressed her hand.

 “I felt the same when I was your age. I was worried about growing old. If I had known then how much I would enjoy it, I could have saved myself so much worry.”

Photo by Italo Melo from Pexels

Jeffrey Kluger wrote in TIME about “The surprising joy of old age”. Psychologists and other investigators have found that old age is often a time defined not by sorrow, dread and regret but rather by peace, gratitude and fulfillment. They conclude that seniors become masters of “terror management theory”.

How about not waiting until you get old?
Stop worrying and make the most of what you have here and now!