“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost.
For more than two and a half years I have been telling you my story in bits and pieces so that you might know the writer behind the words. One of you told me that I’ve led a far more interesting life than she had. I think that’s a matter of perspective. Each of our lives is truly unique and conforms to the choices we each have made. Remembering that it is said that “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence“, your life may seem dull and boring, because it’s not what you expected or wanted, but to someone else viewing it from another perspective, it might be a dream come true. “Ha!” you say, “How can that possibly be true? Who would want this life I’ve been living?” The truth is, someone who has totally different hopes, dreams and expectations may find your life the one for which they have hoped.
My life has had its good times and its bad. It was never meant to be that proverbial bed of roses (which I never understood because roses do have thorns) but without the “bad” I would never appreciate the good. Without the bad, I would never have learned a thing or become the person I am today.
Have I stopped growing and/or learning? In blunt Taurean language, “Hell no!” I still have much to learn. Some, including myself, might say I still have a long, long way to go. Isn’t that what we’re all here for though?
The journey to find who I truly am has been quite like exploring a house – going from room to room to see what has been stored there, checking the closets and cupboards, even visiting the attic and basement to look for those long-forgotten things that were placed there for safe keeping. Sometimes it’s been quite pleasant to find memories that had been forgotten. Other times…not so much.
Referring back to the quote by Robert Frost, one of the many things I have discovered is that in many, many instances when I was just being me – quite the individual that marched to the beat of her own drummer – conflict arose from the outside as to what was considered “acceptable”. When that happened, it seems that my individuality was packed away in one of the many rooms of my personal “mansion” for fear that I wouldn’t find acceptance and/or approval. Piece by piece and bit by bit, my individuality was shoved into the background without conscious realization that I was doing this.
Conformity is one of the many things we are programmed with but there is a “shadow self” that sometimes refuses to be silenced and that shadow self is called “rebellion”. Usually it takes place against any form of authority, sometimes it’s just a rebellion against what is considered “normal”. If you’ve been reading about my journey, especially the earlier entries, you know there was never anything that the society of the times would call “normal”. You can only hide or suppress who you truly are for so long.
I tried so very hard to find a way to fit in for most of my youth. What I discovered, as I’ve looked back on it all, is that the most sorrowful moments of my emotional life came when I was trying my damnedest to fit in! Wow! That was truly a revelation. There I was, trying to conform to what parents, teachers, and peers expected me to be, and my reward was being taunted and rejected anyway. Doesn’t make much sense does it? It seems to conjure the old “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” adage, wouldn’t you say?
You would think that, once you’re through childhood and your teen years, things would improve; that you would finally not have to answer to anyone; that as an adult the only one you’re accountable to is you. Think again. By that time we have been trained well and we begin to conform to get a job, to find a mate and even to be considered a good parent, once we’ve had children. It seems like some kind of hamster wheel from hell that we can’t, or at least don’t know how to, get off of! We find ourselves “settling” for this job or that mate because we don’t remember who we are and, thus, can hardly know what or who it is that we want in our lives.
Each of our journeys – mine, yours, the guy next door – are all meant to be individualistic. There’s no conformity, no limitation, and nothing is impossible. That doesn’t mean our bed of roses is without thorns, after all, we are here to learn. What it does mean is that we should be seeking our own approval because when we are all alone, we have to like who we spend the most time with…us!
I made that discovery, finally, in my mid-twenties. It was then that I decided that no matter what I would try to do, someone would always dislike me. I was miserable and tired of wearing that mask of conformity. I desperately needed to like who I was, even if no one else did. I wanted to be happy with my own company. So, I decided it was time to be me – for better or worse. After all, there must be someone out there who would like the “real” me.
Almost 40 years have passed since I made that fateful decision. There have been those who have totally and completely disliked me and those who have liked and appreciated my friendship – as I have liked and appreciated theirs. The best thing of all? I absolutely love my own company and am completely happy with the person I am. Most of all, I respect myself for having made that choice. Deciding to live my life authentically, by being the real me, has made all the difference. I wish the same for you…