If there is any advice I would universally give to every person, regardless of who they are, it is this: walk your own path.
Walk your own damn path.
Don’t walk someone else’s path. Don’t walk the path your parents predestined for you just because you feel emotionally indebted to them. Don’t walk a path that appears to be yours, but is actually society’s fabricated ideal of who you ‘should’ be. Don’t walk a path just because you fell into it and it’s “good enough.” Don’t walk a path that you feel a sense of enslaved duty towards because it’s what you “need to be” doing according to dominant sociocultural standards.
Walk your own path. That means CHOOSING your own path in a very conscious way.
What is a Lone Wolf?
A lone wolf is typically defined as a person (or animal) who prefers to spend time alone rather than being in a group. However, here lone wolf refers to a person who has listened to their calling and has left behind their old life, thus rendering them alone or alienated from others. We all possess an inner wolf that thirsts for freedom, truth, and authenticity. If we seek to live a meaningful life, if we want to fulfill our destiny, it’s our job to listen to that inner wolf and embrace our sacred wild nature.
Why Most People Are Terrified of Walking Their Own Path
Although choosing your own path may initially sound very empowering, there’s a reason why most people prefer to follow the herd.
Firstly, walking your own path means that you might be REJECTED by others. You might be gossiped about, thought of in disparaging ways (e.g. as a “kook,” “oddball,” “idiot”), and outright alienated or estranged from other people. Sometimes those people who reject you are those closest to you. And what could be more painful than losing a family member, friend or even partner?
As a species, we are biologically programmed to seek approval because acceptance equals survival. Inevitably, doing anything that may cause us to be rejected sets off those deep, primal alarm bells and raises the hairs on the back of our necks. I would go so far as saying that walking your own path guarantees that at some point someone will look down on you and say, “what on earth are you doing, you imbecile?”
The second reason why most people avoid walking their own paths is that it’s a hell of a lotta work. No one is out there giving you a map, a set of rules, or instructions that tell you what to do. YOU have to be responsible for figuring it all out from scratch. It kind of feels like stumbling through the dark in a room full of sharp objects. You will make mistakes. You will fall flat and land smack bang on your face. You will feel embarrassed, overwhelmed, and a lot of other uncomfortable emotions that come with doing something completely radical. And on a mental and emotional level, most people see that. Most people understand, on some superficial level, the consequences and therefore prefer the cozy, comfortable, and bland mediocrity of society-prescribed living.
The third reason why most people avoid walking their own paths is that it’s “too much” RESPONSIBILITY. When you take your path into your own hands, YOU are responsible. There’s no one to blame, point the finger at, whine about or feel victimized by. You are the worker, boss, innovator, and creator all-in-one. Instead of someone else holding all the cards, you hold all the cards, and it is ultimately your problem if you wind up feeling shitty with what you do. Most people can’t handle that. Most people like the comfy confines of their cages because it makes them feel justified about feeling like a “poor little” victim of life. Instead of taking self-responsibility, it’s much easier to dump the burden onto someone else’s shoulders and feel self-righteously empowered through blame.
And last, but not least, the fourth reason why most people avoid walking their own paths is that they don’t know where to start. Some don’t even know that there is another path, to begin with. We seem to be raised in cultures that tell us that there are a limited number of paths, aka. the paths that are taught by the big money-making University and College industries. In school, we are conditioned to believe that going to University is the only path towards developing a legitimately “fulfilling” career path … and that getting a properly certified career path somehow equals happiness. Very few of us are even taught about other equally, if not fulfilling paths. Spirituality isn’t even touched on in most cases. So when we do stumble upon the possibility of taking a new path that goes against the grain, we are not only intimidated but also invalidated by our social conditioning. Many people believe that the only way to know you’re walking a “proper” or valuable is if you get the approval of social institutions (or shall I say social marketplaces) in the form of degrees and PhDs. The deep distrust we are conditioned to develop in ourselves paralyzes our ability to act. So many of us never make anything of our dreams – they just fester in the back-corners of our minds.
The Many Weird and Wonderful Benefits of Walking Your Own Path
So far we’ve focused only on the negative side of walking your own path and being a lone wolf. But what about the breathtaking, exciting, blood-tingly-good benefits? When comparing the negatives and positives side by side, let me tell you, the negatives pale in comparison to what you can expect to experience.
Yes, being different and being a lone wolf walking your own path can be uncomfortable, tiring, confusing, and alienating at times – BUT there are so many rewards to reap from this courageous way of living. Some include:
- You are free to follow your true soul path
- You can innovate and create to your heart’s desire
- You can connect with people who truly support and nourish you (your soul group)
- You can experience tremendous mental, emotional, and spiritual growth
- You can become the person you are destined to be
- You can make a real difference in the life of others
- You feel more ALIVE
- Gratitude, excitement, and joy come more easily
- Many unexpected doors open to you
- You feel more vibrant and energized
- You feel a sense of self-respect for courageously pursuing your life purpose
- You get to experience the thrill of exploring unknown territory
- You can go to sleep at night feeling happy and content
Does walking your own path always mean that you’ll have to embrace being a lone wolf or social outsider? No, not always. Maybe your life purpose really is to enter statistics into a data file in an office. Maybe it’s simply being an acceptable member of society. If you feel empowered by that or like it’s for a greater purpose, all the more power to you. But I would argue that there’s a difference between defensive complacency (e.g. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’m perfectly happy in this path/job, thank you very much”) and real fulfillment.
I would also argue that spiritually speaking, we are all required to embrace the path of the lone wolf sooner or later. The very way that society is constructed demands that we must forcibly and intentionally take a different route, especially after we’ve experienced a spiritual awakening or dark night of the soul. At a certain point in our lives, we look around at everything and everyone around us and think, “there’s got to be more.” This thirst for something deeper and greater than material pursuit is what initiates us onto the path of the lone wolf. Why do I call it the path of the lone wolf? The reason why I call it the lone wolf path is that it can initially be a very lonely path. We must be the ones to reconnect with our inner courage, discernment, and wild internal compass to walk the path well. Without embodying the inner strength, resilience, and intelligence represented by the wolf, we can easily fall back into the shallow and mediocre life lived by the billions of sheep out there.
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How to Embrace Being a Lone Wolf and Walk Your OWN Path
Walking your own path, on some level, always requires a conscious choice in which you say “YES, this feels true to me and what my soul really craves for.” Even if you accidentally stumble onto that path, walking an authentic path always requires some level of self-reflection.
At some point in your life journey, you will need to embrace being a lone wolf. You’ll have to go at it alone. You’ll have to go against the grain, break free from the herd, ask the difficult questions, and face the confronting truths which may alienate you from others. You will need to be discerning, see through the bullshit, shrug off the haters, and keep moving forward, even if you are tired of fighting. Being a lone wolf means being a warrior. It means standing up for what you believe in and courageously walking into the wild unknown. It’s all worth it. I can assure you of that and I can keep asserting it until I turn black and blue, but ultimately you must discover this for yourself. Don’t take anything I say as truth unless you have experienced it directly.
If you’re drawn towards embracing your inner wolf and courageously walking your own path, here are some helpful pointers:
1. Understand and accept that there will be some backlash
Whether from your friends, family members, or society at large, you will inevitably encounter naysayers. At some point, you will be met with cynics, killjoys, and sourpusses who seek to bring you down to their level. The reason why they fight against you is that in their minds you invalidate their way of existence. By courageously forging your own path you are causing them to reflect on their own lives and decisions. If on some level, they’ve realized that they’ve followed the crowd and made no unique decisions of their own, they will feel a sense of resentment which they’ll project onto you. Although it’s not nice to be on the receiving end of this, understand that the issue lies with them, not you. Everyone walking a path with a heart will experience social unease at some point – you’re certainly not alone in facing this problem. Just keep moving forward and remind yourself that it’s no one’s place to dictate what your life should be like except you.
2. Ask yourself, “What do I truly and deeply want?”
This is not a question you ask just once, this is a question you continuously ask on your path, thousands of times over. Keep bringing back your focus on what you desire on the deepest level – not what others want to project or dump onto you. What do you feel called to do? What do you wish to accomplish in your life? What wild paths are you afraid to take because they are so alien but that you feel secretly drawn towards? Our paths are not static: they are constantly shifting, evolving, and changing. By repeatedly asking yourself this question, you will be able to reinvent yourself over and over again. Instead of getting stuck in an old and stagnant way of living, you will be in tune with your soul.
3. Question everything
Being a lone wolf and walking your own path go hand-in-hand with a sharp mind. How are we to discover what is our “stuff” vs other’s “stuff” if we can’t be discerning? How can we learn what is true and what is deceptive without the ability to analyze? Your mind is a tool that needs to be sharpened. Without having a sharp mind, it’s easy to fall into delusion, naivety, and stumble into rabbit holes which lead to great confusion. Without the ability to use critical thought (and balance that with an open heart), you can easily fall prey to emotional and spiritual predators out there. Your ability to be discerning is your protective sword on your path. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be discerning! Don’t let anyone convince you of anything until you have experienced it yourself. Read more about the importance of spiritual discernment.
4. Love yourself and be your own best friend
Embracing the path of the wolf and taking responsibility for your life can be lonely. If you are your own worst enemy, your path will be a million times harder. But if you can focus some of that energy on learning to love and accept yourself exactly the way you are (warts and all), your path will be a million times easier. You are with yourself 24/7, you are the only person who has been there by your side through everything … doesn’t it make sense to like who you are? Doesn’t it make sense to enjoy spending time with yourself? In my experience it absolutely does. Practicing self-compassion and learning how to love yourself are the most powerful tools and strengths you can possess. Ever.
5. Know yourself
Strive to learn a little bit more about yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses each and every day. Self-discovery and self-understanding are tremendously important facets of walking your own path. As the wise master Lao Tzu once wrote, “He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.” Only when you can come to deeply know yourself can you truly embrace who you are and walk your path with confidence.
6. Feel the fear, but act anyway
Walking the path of the wolf will inevitably confront you with some scary and intimidating situations. Even simply starting the path into those mysterious woods is terrifying. Following your heart and listening to your calling is not as sunshine-and-roses as many people make it out to be. Often it requires tremendous sacrifice and the ability to look fear straight in the face without turning away. While I am not a perfect example, I have learned as a rule that feeling the fear but acting anyway is a good choice (in most cases). Obviously, if you’re facing a life-threatening situation it would be better to pause and probably face the opposite way, but if the fear you’re feeling is emotional or psychological be gentle with yourself and keep pushing forward. Hold your goal in mind, reaffirm your worthiness and inner strength, and keep going. Don’t let anything or anyone try to bring you down. And if you do fall down, keep picking yourself up, over and over again. Remember, you can do anything, just do it afraid. Have the courage to be vulnerable.
7. Let your wild nature guide you
You are both human and divine – accept this. Embrace the wild and non-rational part of you that serves as your inner compass. Listen to your gut feelings and let your animal self be filled with passion. You don’t have to be tame or repressed any longer. Walking your own path and embracing the lone wolf side of you means that you finally have freedom. You have the freedom to feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the earth beneath your feet. Your life is your making. Your destiny is in your hands. Make sure that you get out of your mind and into your body; into your heart, blood, and bones … what are they telling you? Honor the wisdom in your instinctual nature. Honor the wild and raw passion pulsating deep within. Harness this passion and let it guide and motivate you. There is no point walking a path that you do not feel passionate about. Let the wolf within you howl loudly and freely. Remember that YOU are both the traveler and the path all-in-one. The compass you need for your path is always within. Be careful of looking for it outside of yourself. While others may be able to shine a light on your path, ultimately the greatest guiding light is your own Soul.
What is your experience with walking the path of the lone wolf? What struggles have you faced and how have you overcome them (if at all)? What did it feel like when you broke away from the herd and followed your own path? I’d love to read your response below.