It all happened to us at some point of our lives. At home when you play with your favorite paper dolls while your neighborhood kids play with guns and swords — and they treat you differently just because you don’t play with guns and swords, or call you “gay” just because you play with paper dolls.
It also happens at school where you are called “weird” when you dye your hair red and yellow, or wearing that oversized spectacles in class, or speaking with a lisp. Or when you choose to sit down reading your favorite book while most of your friends are out there hanging out in the sun playing soccer.
It also happens at work, especially if you are shamed because your junk food-eating co-workers saw you eating carrot sticks. Or a more common case is that you end up getting ridiculed in your office just because you don’t drink alcohol, while they take pride in being drunk every weekend or even if there’s work the next day.
… and countless experiences amongst others.
And after years of such experience, this is what people usually do:
They stop whatever it is that they love to do.
They start looking for approval from their parents, spouse, teachers, and friends whether it’s about choosing a career, what clothes to wear, and what-not.
As a result, they stop being themselves altogether.
All of them are terrible mistakes!
You must understand:
That all of us are born unique. We have a different set of “genetics”, talents and character traits that was never produced before, and will never be produced again in the future.
That currently, we are socially conditioned to do this and that to get good grades or get promoted at work. We do this and that in order to please our girlfriends. We pay attention to trends and news in our society even if it offers little relevance. We focus on feeding ourselves with tons of Facebook likes. We make fun of other people’s faces or belittle others maybe because, this is a quick fix to make ourselves feel better. We join clubs and organizations just because your crush is an active participant. We seek external and immediate pleasures, and the easier it is to get, the better. Perhaps because it seems easier to ‘go with the flow’, and while in it, we find it extremely hard to get out!
It is your job then, to break free from that cycle. And that alone, requires insight, as well as the ability to accept your own weirdness.
How? I offer your three courses of action:
1. Know yourself.
You begin by looking back at your eight-year-old version of yourself. Remember the time that your mother or teacher asked you what would you want to be when you grow up? Try to remember what your answer was and how that little smile formed on your face. If you remembered that you answered with confidence, I think that is a good start. Even if your job is way much different than what you wanted to be during that time. That feeling of empowerment no matter how small, should offer you a sense of motivation. But don’t get too excited just yet.
2. Keep yourself grounded in Reality.
It simply means that you can’t keep your head above the clouds all the time. You can’t live your life thinking that all you get is unicorns and rainbows. Neither does it mean that you keep a list of expectations as “what” and “how” the world should be. It is better to see the world “as-is”, rather than ticking that internal checklist of yours on how the world “should” be. For example, while walking down the street, you see a parked motorcycle. “That is a motorcycle, not some machine that will grow a beard and run over you and your grandmother”. “You see a school kid across the street. He’s just a kid standing there and he’s not going to throw rocks at you.” You know what I mean.
On another note, be careful of other people that spout words like “reality” this, and “reality” that; they often turn out to be their own alternate versions that will only work in their favor. I’ll talk about this on another blog post.
3. Get Over the Fear of Offending Others
This should be self-explanatory. But if further explanation is needed, one of the things you need to realize is this: You are your own property. Nobody owns you but yourself. Not your girlfriend, not your spouse, but yourself. You are the only one responsible for your own feelings. It means, you can’t blame others for your own actions and consequences. You can’t ruin your day just because that ant over the corner of your house needs to go out, but just couldn’t get it.
Practically speaking, once you get a feel for technique (1) above, you now have a sense of direction. That whatever friends, teachers, or others say about you would mean nothing. One major reason is that, by this time you know what want, and you want that bad, and will do whatever it takes to get it. Sounds cliché but it really isn’t.
The points above are by no means cookie-cutter techniques. They are by no means “baby food” that we are meant to digest in a few seconds. In the end, it takes a lifetime of practice, self-realization, which is worthy for us to enjoy the therapeutic effect they offer.
Cheers, and spread the love.