Many of my friends suffer a lot because they can not be what they think society demands from them. A size 8 and always properly poised? Fashion gurus? Heads of department at work and perfect housewives and mothers at the same time?
And what about the men? They want to be the first in their companies, no mistakes ever. And always look fit and attractive.
Society is a mean little bully. ‘Either you do what I want, or else.’
We live in a world of competition and demands. And the worst of it is that we foster the same pattern among our kids. ‘You’d better be like that to survive,’ is our advice to them. ‘The world is the way it is and you won’t be able to change it, so adapt and be like the rest,’ we add.
But that is all WRONG! You don’t need to be like everybody else to be happy. And being happy is the only thing that matters. If you are happy, things will fit into place. (Unless, of course, you are a mentally disturbed person who distorts reality.)
First, don’t demand too much from yourself. Demand just enough. Don’t turn into your worst enemy.
Let me tell you a little story. For many years, I was often discarded or isolated by others. I was too different from them. Back then, I couldn’t understand why that was so; I couldn’t see the differences. But believe me, they were there. For instance, I grew up in a small and very conservative provincial town and was somehow always considered a foreigner. Which was good in a way: some people tended to let me get away with certain things because ‘she’s a foreigner.’ But I was never truly one of them.
Not even boys would look at me. I was too tall, too thin, too strange. I remember telling my friends when I was about fourteen: ‘I just don’t understand it. I am much taller than you, blond, slim and with green eyes. In theory, men should be chasing me. But they don’t. None of them have a second look at me.’ I guess my “uniqueness” scared them away.
As years went by, I traveled and lived in a few different countries. No need to say, I was the eternal outsider.
No matter how hard I tried, I was different over and over again. And I just wanted to fit in. Everybody always knew who I was just because everything in me was not like them. I stood out.
The result of so much “outsiderness” was that I ended up inventing my own ‘me.’
Today, I am so much better looking! Now men do look at me twice (and it’s not because I wear anything extravagant or showy.) 🙂
A few years ago my friends started telling me that I had my own dressing style. I had no idea. And my own look. No idea, either. Just two days ago I was with some international acquaintances and I showed them the new had I had just bought for myself. ‘That’s so much you!’ they all exclaimed, meaning that it suited me and really matched my personal style. My own style! Who would have ever even imagined it?
And that “me” is not just external but very internal, too. I learned to be happy in spite of frowns, criticism and neglect. And that capacity to feel optimistic and joyful is my greatest asset today. It’s what attracts many, many people to me and opens the doors to authentic friendships with those who are looking for real, heart to heart bonds.
There still are a lot of people out there who avoid me like the plague because I am different. But it doesn’t bother me anymore. What kind of friends would they make if they can’t accept differences in others? If they despise singularity and “outsiderness”? Those people don’t interest me. I have more than enough with open-minded ones. Let them suffer (because they do.)
The more authentic you are, the more true to yourself, the happier you become. I know it. I did it. I do it.
Enjoy life, J.