Everybody wants to say “I’m living life on my own terms” but the truth is that only very few of us actually do.
When making decisions, most of us are directly and indirectly influenced by our parents, our friends, our partners, and society as a whole.
Want to know if you’re one of the few people who’s actually living life on their own terms?
See if you can relate to these 13 behaviors.
1) You’re highly independent
One can’t claim that they’re living life on their own terms if they’re very dependent on others.
You might feel like you’re calling the shots, but if you’re still living with your parents or you cling to your partner like your life depends on them… can you really say you’re living life on your own terms?
Of course, not. It’s just not possible.
That’s why you try your best to be independent—financially, mentally, emotionally, socially.
That way, you don’t feel indebted to anyone…and that makes it possible for you to make choices that are untouched by others.
2) You assert yourself when necessary
You’re not aggressive. In fact, you’re probably one of the gentlest people around. But you don’t let people walk over you.
When someone is stepping on your boundaries or clearly abusing you, you tell them off, as nicely as possible.
And when there’s something that you want to say, you say it. You’re not worried if that would make others feel uncomfortable (or even dislike you).
It doesn’t matter if they’re your boss or your mother-in-law, you are not shy to express and assert yourself when necessary.
After all, who else will do it for you?
3) You say “No” when you want to say no
You respect that everyone has limitations and preferences.
You don’t feel awful when you decline an offer or request because, after all, it SHOULD always be an option to say no.
Besides, you don’t feel bad when others say “no” to you either.
People-pleasing is something you actively try to break free from. That’s because you’ve noticed that every time you do things purely out of guilt, you start to resent the other person (and even yourself)…and that’s just not good for everyone involved.
You’re also well-aware that not being able to set boundaries is a recipe for codependent relationships.
So you’d rather say “no” than hold grudges.
4) You say “Yes” when you want to say yes
When you really want something and it’s offered to you, you grab it with both hands!
If you got accepted at a job that’s halfway across the globe, you’d take it even if your family and friends make you feel bad for “abandoning” them.
If your partner proposes to you, you’d say “Yes!” because you truly love them. It doesn’t matter to you if others think they’re not good enough for you.
You don’t care if some people think you’re making bad decisions. It’s absolutely none of their business.
You’d rather find out than let others dictate you on what you should and shouldn’t do with your one precious life.
5) You have your own definition of success
From the moment we’re born, we’re taught that success means getting rich, getting famous, and being the best at whatever it is that we do.
It also means being married and having kids and having many friends.
But luckily, you’ve customized your own definition of success. Sure, it might still include some of the things mentioned above, but it could also include the ones that are invisible to the eye.
Success to you might focus on having a sound mind, a healthy self-esteem, and having many experiences…and instead of a kid, you might want a pet rabbit.
And when others are perplexed how you can think that those things make one successful, you won’t even engage because they’re the type of people who won’t even try to understand that success looks different to each one of us.
6) You don’t feel the need to explain your life choices
If people ask “Oh, so you’re still pursuing an art career? Don’t you want a real job?” or “You’re still not getting married?”
You calmly answer “Yes” and just leave it at that.
You don’t go on and on explaining why your choices aren’t so bad because they’ll never understand anyway.
The important thing is that you’re actually happy and at peace with your life choices…other people’s opinions are just noise.
7) You’re not bothered by other people’s wins
That’s because theirs is not the kind of win you want for yourself—well, not exactly.
So if a friend receives an award for a research they made about mosquitos in Tunisia, you won’t think “But what about me?” because you don’t want that award. You’re not even into science!
You’d actually be happy for them (and be inspired by them) because they achieved what they always wanted.
Someone who doesn’t live life on their own terms would be green with envy because they are mainly focused on impressing others. You, on the other hand, are focused on your own version of success and happiness.
8) You can’t be bossed around
You’re not a kid anymore. So you don’t just obey someone just because they intimidate you or make you feel that they’re making smarter decisions than you.
Of course, you collaborate and cooperate when you’re in a team. But you don’t take orders just ‘cause—not from your partner, your parents, or your colleagues.
You don’t want to be in a “leader” and “follower” dynamic especially when you’re not at work.
So as much as possible, you don’t want to be around people who think they have the right to boss others around. Based on your experience, they’re the worst kind of people to be with.
9) You don’t feel pressured to do things for others
You are very much aware that you have some responsibility towards the people in your life. However, you don’t allow this kind of pressure to dictate your major life choices.
If you’re an only child and your parents are begging you to stay with them for life so there’s someone who can take care of them, you’d gently and lovingly say no.
As much as you love them, you want to pursue the life that you truly want for yourself. You’ll instead offer to visit them regularly and call them as often as you can.
You only have one life. It can be taken away from you in a heartbeat. You’d rather spend your life the way you really want to spend it than sacrifice your life for others.
10) You often assess your relationship dynamics
Are you in a codependent friendship?
Has your partner become manipulative and controlling?
Is your family dysfunctional?
You pay attention to your relationships and make sure that the people you keep close have your best interests at heart.
You know how much people can influence the path you take—from the most obvious ones like making decisions for you, to the more subtle ones like expressing their opinions about your choices.
That’s why you’d rather be with open-minded people who allow and support you to explore the life you want without judgment.
11) You question society’s “rules”
Why do we have to study a four-year course in college?
Do we really have to pray in order to be considered good?
Do we really need to have a child so our life has purpose?
Our society has just too many rules—official and unwritten—that you find limiting and even questionable.
For you, as long as you’re not causing any harm to anyone, society’s “rules” are just recommendations and not something you should follow in order to achieve your own success and happiness.
12) You rebel in big and small ways
If you’re a woman, you’re not afraid to act “unwomanly”. And if you’re a guy, you’re not afraid to act more feminine.
If you spot some wrinkles in your face, you shrug and say “Radical self-acceptance” instead of getting a botox like everyone else.
And if you’re tired, you allow yourself to rest even if the world thinks it’s a crime to do so.
You live your life the way you want to, and of course, that means you sometimes unintentionally go against the grain.
13) You’re always aiming for an authentic life
You want a life that you can truly call your own…with thoughts you can truly call your own, and choices you can truly call your own.
So even if it’s challenging to create your own path instead of simply following the path that’s been made by others, you take it.
You can’t imagine living a life that you didn’t design. You can’t imagine sacrificing your authentic self just to please others. You can’t imagine playing a role so others will like you.
You want a life that’s truly your own, even if it’s not what other people find ideal.
If you can relate to these 13 behaviors, then congratulations!
You’re definitely living life on your own terms.
You might not have the best life (yet), but it’s something you can truly call your own.
Stay the same and remain loyal to your authentic self. And if possible, encourage others to become as free as you.