There are many people in our lives who have good intentions and sage advice for us. A famous scene in the 1967 movie The Graduate plays out this dynamic well. Benjamin Braddock, portrayed by Dustin Hoffman, is at a party after his graduation from college. Everyone is fascinated by what he might do next in life. A friend of the family, Mr. McGuire, corners Benjamin and the following exchange occurs;
Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Mr. McGuire was probably right. Benjamin would have made a fortune in the plastic business. The problem was that Ben had another idea. He tells his father that he just wants to be different.
We do not have to follow a path that has been prescribed for us by well-meaning family members, friends, and mentors. Their expectations, experiences, and visions for our path are barely relevant to the one that we must forge on our own. We can be led to the crossroad but, in the final analysis, must travel on alone.
Our personal passions and dreams are unique unto us. When we take the road that was traveled by others and fail to follow ours, life will not be satisfying. As Joseph Campbell would say, ‘follow your bliss’. It might be scary but your own adventure is perfectly fit just for you.