I Love When People Tell Me "You Can't Do That"

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I really love it when I share an idea or a dream of mine with someone else and they come up with a reason why I can’t or express any general disbelief. I am not even saying this in a petty, sarcastic manner. I really do love it. It helps me decide how much I am willing to invest in proving this person, as well as my inner critic, wrong.

The first time I realized this was when I wanted to revolutionize my fitness regimen. I told a friend that I thought I would pick up running over the summer to which he responded, “yeah, that’ll happen.” That’s the story of how I ended up running my very first half marathon. Every time I felt myself getting winded or feeling like giving up, I honestly thought back to the moment when he expressed his disbelief, and decided that this was something worth proving him wrong on.

Now, this goes the other way as well. If a friend were to tell me “there’s no way you’ll ever learn the capital of every country in the world,” I’d probably respond, “yeah, you’re right” and move on. That’s not worth the investment of time or energy because it’s not something I’m interested in proving them wrong on.

Fortunately, I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of supportive people. Generally, when I express something that I want to set out to do, I am met with enthusiasm and encouragement. At that point it comes down to, “do I actually want to do this?” That’s why the desire doesn’t feel fully real until someone tells me I can’t do it and then I go into this frenzy of how I’m going to prove them wrong. I’ve realized through this that there are only two times I won’t fight for something. First, I won’t fight for something if I don’t wholeheartedly believe in. It’s just not worth it to me, I’d rather raise a white flag than fight for something as fickle as pride. Second, I won’t fight if the person in question means more to me than winning the fight itself. It sort of gives a new meaning to the cliché of picking your battles wisely.

The times I have made my greater accomplishments are always the ones where I was met with resistance. My high school guidance counselor told me I wasn’t smart enough to attend the school I currently hold a degree from. Another high school peer told me that the major I chose wasn’t a smart choice just a few years before he flunked out of college himself. I was met with lots of disbelief about moving out of my hometown post-college, which made it that much more satisfying to pack my bags and leave.

It can be difficult when someone whose opinion we value tells us that we are not suited for a dream of ours. Usually it’s because they can’t afford that dream themselves. I’ve learned not to let the projection of others’ shortcomings into my own frame of mind. They have enough doubt for the both of us. At the end of the day, I want to be the person that no one can say “you can’t do that” to.

Although maybe secretly, I still hope they do.

Written By Erin Cinney

Bio: Erin is a graduate from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s in English. She currently resides in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area where she enjoys writing about life experiences, love, and being a millennial.

Instagram.com: @erincinney