in: Advice, Character, Sunday Firesides

Sunday Firesides: The Saddest Epitaph

You dropped your dream of becoming a writer and went to medical school so you wouldn’t disappoint your parents.

You stayed in your first relationship two years too long because breaking up would have really hurt your girlfriend’s feelings. 

You married your wife, despite getting frigidly cold feet, because the invitations had already been sent, and it felt far too awkward and fraught to call the wedding off.

You never pushed back on the proposals you knew were doomed to fail at work because you didn’t want to rock the boat.

You silently watched your friend self-destruct because it wasn’t your place to say something. 

You didn’t go to bat for your kid about how he was being treated at school to avoid causing a stir.

You never voiced your ideas for changes to make at church because that isn’t how things are done.

You never speak your mind anywhere, about anything, to sidestep the potential blowback. 

When people think of you (which isn’t especially often), they’ll describe you as pleasant, nice, polite.

But is that all they could say about you?

Niceness is admirable when it serves as the gilding on a life in which stands were made, chances were taken, influence was magnified, and passions were pursued; niceness is a tragedy when it constitutes your sole legacy.

How terrible it would be, at the end of your days, to realize that at the heart of all of your decisions wasn’t belief, conviction, or desire, but a craving for safety, a desperation for approval, and a deep, deep-seated fear of not being liked.

How sad it would be, as you’re laid in your final resting place, if the only epitaph that could be engraven on your tombstone would read:

Here lies _________.

He never offended anyone.

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