This topic has been suggested by frequent reader/commenter Tim Kozlow, and it’s an excellent one. I believe many have a nagging feeling deep inside that they should be doing something other than what they are. Tim suggested we?re constrained by myths that keep us from doing what we were born to do. I completely agree. And I’m saying that partially from my own life’s experience, and those I’ve seen with others.
We can waste a good part of our lives going in directions that aren?t suited to either our talents, skills or preferences. It?s downright tragic when that happens as a result of indoctrination by parents, family and friends, the school system or other forces that are at work in our lives, if only beneath the surface.
An New Direction for OutOfYourRut.com
This topic request by Tim has inspired me to take a new direction with OutOfYourRut.com. I’ll continue to write articles on topics I believe to be relevant. But at the same time, I’d like to make a standing invitation for anyone who wants to suggest a topic for a future article.
In fact, I welcome any of you to write an article. You don’t need to worry if it lacks proper writing style. I’m more interested in the ideas you present, and will be more than happy to make any necessary editing changes. And who knows, you may find you have a hidden talent for writing, and this can launch you in a totally different direction.
Alternatively, feel free to write just two or three paragraphs. If the ideas are good, I’ll build a full-fledged article around them, and give you full credit for the topic. Please send your writings to me at kevin (at) outofyourrut (dot) net.
Why the New Direction?
I’m going to say upfront that I believe 2019 may see an acceleration of many of the negative economic, social and political trends that have been building since about 2000. The nervous normalcy of the past 10 years may soon morph into something more dramatic.
Feel free to write on any topic ideas to:
- Make extra money
- Deal with job/employment issues
- Deal with unemployment issues
- Cut living expenses
- Deal with debt
- Housing alternatives
- Transportation alternatives
- College costs and student loans
- Developing new career skills
- Starting a business ? full-time or part-time
- Health insurance or healthcare
- Saving money (as in building a nest egg and beyond)
- Or otherwise find ways to live a compelling life in a world where the economic pressures are growing
Feel free to relate personal experiences, good or bad. You can use your real name, or a pseudonym.
Going forward, I want OutOfYourRut.com to be a fully participatory blog. Over the years, there have been hundreds of brilliant comments added to this site by readers. Some of them have provided inspiration for the articles I’ve written. I’d like to encourage more of that, including and especially if you’re interested in writing articles on topics that are important to you.
Thank you Tim.
Now let?s get back to the subject at hand?
Myths that Keep Us from Doing What We Were Born to Do
The suggestion from Tim was on the comment thread for Breaking Free of the Constraints of Being Middle Class. That was a provocative topic, because it causes us to question a lifetime of indoctrination. Good on Tim for picking up that ball and carrying it a few yards farther. That’s what I always hope to inspire with these articles. If ever there was a time when the average person needed to think outside-the-box and find alternative solutions, now is that time.
The exchange with Tim started with my comment to Bev, about how much different life seems in other countries (which was her idea), compared with here.
I wrote (partially):
?One guy on another comment thread was talking about retiring to Equador where he and his wife are paying $78 a month for health insurance, and supplementing their retirement income by teaching English to the locals. It?s radical, but not if we suspend our indoctrinations and judgements. Sometimes it really does help to ?put it all behind? and try something totally new. I don?t feel like I could do that, but it?s an inspiring story of what can be done.?
Tim’s comment response:
?Kevin, It?s not radical. It?s just life. It?s just pursuing a passion or way of life. What makes it radical? Is it that it is in another country that makes it that way? We have been taught fear of other countries. Taught our way of life is better or we live some kind of lifestyle that the world is jealous of. Or that there is a boogieman around every corner.
I used to think these things until I started leaving the country. Once I did I realized nobody cares about us as I thought. I also never realized how far we are away from the rest of the world over here. I also never realized how much fear and paranoia are shoved down our throats in this country. This is all part of that middle-class groupthink. It?s the middle and so-called lower class?that can be easily herded into that groupthink mentality.?
My response to Tim:
“There?s become a standard set of narratives that largely define how we?re instructed to live. And while it comes from the top down ? we should suspect so the leaders and elites can keep us in line through fear ? but it?s enforced at the ground level. As our peers buy into the indoctrination, they consciously and unconsciously work to make sure we ?behave?. If you doubt that, try announcing to your peers that you intend to do something ?radical? and unusual, along the lines of attempting to move toward becoming your own person.
I experienced that when we sold our house, when I went into blogging, and when we moved to New Hampshire from the alleged Emerald City of Atlanta. There probably were other less dramatic situations that I?ve forgotten, or they?ve become less important as I?ve become more self-directed. I?ve seen this happen with others as well ? you?re going to do WHAT???“
First Step: Give Yourself Permission to Be Different
Have you looked around much? Do you see anything that’s normal anymore, or whatever normal was ever supposed to be? Normal is a middle-class construct, and one only observed by an increasingly small number of people even in that group.
Most of us inherently work to conform. It’s likely this is largely driven by genetic factors. Historically, humanity has survived and thrived primarily within the scope of community. There’s very little evidence of people going off on their own, as proverbial lone wolves, and thriving. Not only is this a survival instinct, but we also derive emotional comfort from being part of a group.
There’s nothing wrong with any of that, it’s even mostly positive. In fact, taken to the extreme, intentional efforts to exclude group participation can even be a neurosis.
But so can efforts to over-conform.
Yes, we all need to be functioning members of society. But at the same time, we have to respect our own uniqueness, and that of others. As a matter of faith, I believe God created all of us to have a certain uniqueness, and that those things that might make us different from others are not an accident or a disadvantage.
The problem with any type of group behavior is that we have a tendency to look at the best examples within the group. We like to pattern ourselves off those who are most popular, attractive, successful, talented, and prosperous. But while there’s some benefit to taking cues from good examples, we also have to recognize that who they are is not who we are.
When we get too caught up in being just like others – even if those others are the good examples – we can lose ourselves in the process. The celebrity worship in our culture tells us this is a bigger problem than we realize.
Each of us have an obligation to be the best person we can be, with our own uniqueness and peculiarities built into the mix. When we try to do otherwise, we deny ourselves and everyone around us the best we’re capable of being.
It takes confidence to do this, but it’s also absolutely necessary.
Second Step: Think Beyond Your Immediate Surroundings
Here I like to use the word provincial. Merriam Webster gives several definitions to this word, but the one I like best is limited in outlook; narrow. A related word is parochial, for which one definition is ?confined or restricted as if within the borders of a parish: limited in range or scope (as to a narrow area or region)?.
Notice that both include the word ?narrow? in their definitions? For better or worse, that describes the mental state of most of humanity. And it’s not an accident.
Every one of us is a product of where we came from. That can refer to the physical place (city, region or country), our families, our educations, and even the social affiliations and the hobbies we choose. Since we often grow up with these from birth, we actually have less control over them than we commonly assume.
For example, getting back to Tim’s point, as Americans, we all have a certain view of the world. Much as Europeans once believed the Atlantic Ocean led to the edge of the world before Columbus discovered the New World, it’s not uncommon for Americans to believe the world beyond our borders and shores is a dark and dangerous place, filled with people plotting against us. Our government feeds into that paranoia. How else can we explain why the citizenry accepts 17+ years of perpetual warfare since 9-11?
This belief is more restricting than most of us understand.
For example, millions of people support the construction of Trump’s border wall. Now throughout history, walls have had a primarily military purpose. There’s little evidence walls have ever kept regular people out. They can be tunnelled under, flown over, swum around, or completely ignored in favor of an open frontier. Unless we?re willing to build a wall around the entire country, including both borders and shores, we’re not going to keep anyone out.
Meanwhile, a strange conundrum develops when you build a wall around your community or nation ? you become a prisoner within those walls.
Yet the concept of building a wall on the national border continues to attract millions of people, against all logic.
But what if we stopped segregating people between Americans and foreigners? What if we stop segregating people by race? Or even by geography within our own borders? In today’s day and time ? when we should know better – we continue to cling to notions of exclusivity. That’s the power of indoctrination.
It’s hard to think outside that indoctrination, but it doesn’t begin to happen until you recognize how real it is. Once you do, and you give yourself permission to think beyond your immediate surroundings, whether that’s your family, your community, your region, or even the country, all sorts of possibilities open up.
This is why some ? like the commenter and his wife who moved to Ecuador to retire ? have actually found a better life in a foreign country. After exhausting themselves trying to find solutions to their financial troubles here in the US, they finally gave themselves permission to look abroad. And that’s where they found their solution.
Third Step: Abandon the Myth of Security
I’m currently reading Mark Manson?s book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F&%#. The title is crude and so is the language in the book, but Manson makes some outstanding points about death and how the fear of it can control how we live.
Toward the end of the book, he writes (on reflection of the death of his best friend):
??When I came to the startling realization that if there really is no reason to do anything, then there is also no reason not to do anything; that in the face of the inevitability of death, there is no reason to ever give in to one’s fears or embarrassment or shame, since it’s all just a bunch of nothing anyway; and that by spending the majority of my short life avoiding what was painful and uncomfortable, I had essentially been avoiding being alive at all.?
He maintains that much of what motivates people in life is creating something that will continue to exist beyond our own deaths, in a vain attempt to impart some sort of immortality to ourselves. He even quotes Mark Twain, with ?The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.?
The message from the Bible
That may sound like a grim assessment of life. But as the Bible-believing Christian, I know that the inevitability of death is part and parcel of the faith. James 4:14 even warns us: ??whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.? (NKJV).
This is not an attempt to be morbid, but rather to remind that the ultimate security in life is death. After all, that’s undeniably where it will all end. And it makes the pursuit of security between now and then a questionable proposition at best.
Yet society warns us we need to be pursuing security at all times. Whether that’s having adequate insurance, saving for retirement, saving for a rainy day, and having all the props to provide comfort and safety, we?re to spend most of our time pursuing these things. In some quarters, it?s even inferred that you can’t begin living until you do.
The cost for over-emphasizing security
There are three potential outcomes to making the pursuit of security a priority in your life:
- You may devote the majority of your life and your time to the pursuit of it.
- You may never achieve it in any real sense.
- After a lifetime of pursuing security, you may find yourself unable to let go of the chase.
This isn’t a call to abandon any attempt at creating some forms of security in your life. It certainly makes sense to save and invest some money, to stay out of debt, to build stable income sources, and to develop a network of family and friends to help you on the journey through life.
But at the same time, none of these efforts should define your life. They should be a part of your life, but not the dominant direction. After all, with the certainty of how life will inevitably end, security itself is mostly an illusion.
Much like building walls around a city or a country, an over-zealous pursuit of security can become its own prison. I don’t know how many people grasp that concept, and it’s certainly not one that’s taught by any official or mainstream sources. But security is a myth you have to be aware of, and adjust your life accordingly.
Fourth Step: Learn to Play Your Own Game
Given all the above, this is a very difficult task. You first have to define who you are, and the world doesn’t help you with that. It’s up to you completely.
This will require spending a good bit of time alone and reflecting on who you are inside. What do you like to do? What do you not like to do? How consistent is your current life with the answers to those questions?
I suspect most people don’t ask themselves these questions, because they’re afraid of what the answers will reveal. But if you’re ever going to find what it is you’re born to do, this is how it will happen. This is how it was for me. I was at a point where there was nowhere to go professionally. All the conventional doors were closed. I had to zero in on what it was I wanted to do, then to pursue it no matter what.
Sure, life sometimes intervenes, but that’s the exception. For example, we can clearly see that some people are naturally born leaders, sales people, or entertainers. But that’s usually true only in the case of people who have overwhelming talent ? obvious to themselves and everyone around them.
We certainly see that with professional athletes. At a very early age, they?re able to easily out-performed their peers. The path to a career in professional sports is fairly straight.
But lacking in such obvious talents, few of us ever find ourselves on such a straight path. I certainly did a lot of zigzagging before finally settling into blogging and freelance blog writing. Yet I consider myself blessed, because I know most people never discover what it is they?re born to do.
That brings up another issue ? age
It’s common for people to believe that finding what you’re born to do is closely associated with age. For example, if you haven’t found your passion by the time you’re in your twenties or thirties, just continue on whatever path you’re on.
That’s absolute nonsense. The unfortunate reality is that a 50 or 60 year old may actually have more time remaining in life than a 20 or 30 year old. Age should never be a barrier. Sure, maybe you’ll only live another 10 years. But what if it turns out you actually have another 30 years? What would you want to be doing with that time?
My own experience is that life gets more precious as you get older. You become more aware that time is limited. And the desire to do what’s most worthwhile becomes more pronounced, as well as the preference to avoid what isn’t.
No matter what your age, it’s easier to thrive when you’re playing your own game, rather than continuing as a square peg in a round hole.
Final Thoughts on Myths that Keep Us from Doing What We Were Born to Do
I don’t know how well this article has addressed Tim?s basic topic idea. It’s long on theory, and short on details. But that’s largely because the details are different in everyone’s life.
What I do know is that you have no chance of doing what you were born to do ? or coming close to creating the life of your dreams ? until you change the narratives of your life and the world. If you do, the solutions to the various mechanical details necessary to bring you to that better place become more obvious.
What we often fail to grasp is that the indoctrinations we’ve been filled with throughout our lives create obstacles, many of which are unnecessary. But if you change your values, if you de-emphasize conventional thinking, like provincialism and the pursuit of security, your life becomes a blank canvas, waiting to be painted with the story of the life you want to live.
Rest assured if you make the choice to pursue it, you will meet resistance from others ? many of them the people closest to you. But you have to realize that just as it is ridiculous to tell others how to live their lives, the same is true going in the opposite direction.
No matter what your age, you should ask yourself what do I want from my life? That?s the starting point that will enable you to clear the decks of all the indoctrination, and to start creating a life of your own choosing.
I?m not at all sure I hit the mark on this very diverse, very subjective topic. But do you have any thoughts to contribute or clarify?
Excellent article, got a lot from this. I’m starting in a new direction in my fifties.
Good for you Milt. Whatever you do, just don’t give up. New directions always have plenty of obstacles. But focus on where you want to go, and the solutions will present themselves.
Wow! Thanks for putting something into words that I’ve had difficulty struggling with, Kevin. It makes me wonder if this is all a contributing factor to why so many of our fellow Americans are struggling with depression and anxiety these days — because we realize that we’re not living up to the narratives that have been set before us. It’s almost like we’ve made ourselves prisoners of our own minds instead of doing what makes the most sense for each one of us.
Hi Steve – I think that really gets to the heart of the matter. We’re inundated with messages and instruction to live a certain way, even if it doesn’t fit who we really are on the inside. I think this is harder for young people, since they’re at that age where they desperately want to fit in. I didn’t discover any of this (or I did but it didn’t sink in) until I got older.
There’s something about the realization of the brevity of life that sobers you up and causes you to think more clearly as you age, more clearly as in thinking beyond the indoctrination. When you do, it’s liberating. But getting to that realization in life is far from easy. I wish I did earlier in life, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time going down paths that could never work for me. But live and learn!
Great as usual, but your statement that we should stop segregating people into Americans and foreigners is called globalism and that is a recipe for failure, all you have to do is look at Europe and how the infiltration of Muslims have absolutely destroyed many of their once great cities. There are parts of these cities that women can’t go or people can not longer have dogs, just because a few people thought that they should stop segregating.. Like most things it looks great on paper but when applied in real life they fall apart, humans have a way of destroying such good things.
Now back to your point, so true!!! I love to think out of the box and try to imagine myself in a foreign land or living in some abstract “home” free of the constraints of this McMansion I found myself in, but I have a wife that can only imagine life as she was indoctrinated into. He parents both with ill health and extreme ageism refuse to leave their 5000 square foot home on 40 acres even though it is falling down around them. I preach that we should retire to something else rather than this high stressed lifestyle and all we would have do is think and act outside of normal societal norms, but to no avail.
Many studies show that long life and happiness is achieved when you have a great partner, but sometime it is not achieved even though you have a great partner. I have relayed my thoughts, sometimes too hard and sometimes just subtle reminders, on the life we could have but fear and indoctrination kills it every time.
That is difficult Rick. Just as it’s difficult to recondition ourselves to think differently, it can be even harder with the people around us. That doesn’t make them bad people, but it does mean they’re not where we’re at. The whole McMansion lifestyle is particularly difficult to break out of, and I’m always glad we never got into it. It can be tough to abandon a lifestyle that’s culturally accepted as being at the top of the economic food chain. Alas, often the only way out of that lifestyle is a crash and burn, forcing the exit.
We always think we have real reasons to not change. Yes, in some cases it will be harder to do than others.
It does start with knowing ourselves. When we are young we don’t really know who we are. So we follow the norms of what society says we should be.
I would say probably 90 percent of us probably drifted into a field or a way of life because we didn’t know ourselves. So we let life pick for us.
I never had a plan. So I did what everybody does. Got a good job, bought a house and eventually started a family. I drifted into my job not by choice but I took a test and got hired.
Now that I was eligible to leave my job and start my own business I have been able to think more about what I really want.
The concept of running out of time has really taken hold the last few years. I’m 55 now.
The end is the same for all.
I just tried to ask the question of why we do what we do. Is it by choice or by a belief system that was given to us.
I would say for me, it was a belief system that was given to me. That is what we do when we don’t know what we are.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this the last five years but really the last year has it really taken hold.
Hi Tim – I’d say in the vast majority of people the driving force is the belief system. We’ve been raised and taught that in America we’re free, but that doesn’t mean we’re not indoctrinated. All societies indoctrinate their populations, even free ones (though it is more pronounced in totalitarian and feudal societies). But the fact that we’re unaware of the indoctrination factor makes us even more vulnerable to it. I continue to be amazed at the millions who “choose” to go to college each year (I write that in quotes because I believe most don’t think they really have a choice) despite the exorbitant cost and the high likelihood of debt that will last well into middle age.
I think if most young people examined all the facts, far fewer would go. But that’s the power of indoctrination. It teaches us the nobility of getting in line with the heard, and following the beaten path. Whether or not that’s actually good for most of us is never seriously questioned – until later in life when the “I can’t change it” mindset takes over.
Here is a false narrative
All Muslims are criminals. Everybody from Mexico is a drug trafficker. Everybody from America is fat and has no class.
All things I have heard. None are true but we believe them because we’re told too.
Think about the things you believe because of what you are told in the media or by parents or the president.
All true. I always find it interesting that a nation populated by the children of immigrants doesn’t want any more immigrants coming here. But we better get used to it because the masses in the poor countries are increasingly deciding they don’t want to stay in their home countries and starve or die before they reach 40. We can not like something that’s happening, but in the end our only choice is to adapt. One of my future predictions is that people from around the world will increasingly move from one country to another. I’ve even told my 20-something kids that, and to be prepared. That includes people leaving the rich countries for poorer ones where money goes farther. In the end, economics, and a desire for a good life, trump patriotism. We may ultimately see the end of national borders, and I wonder how people will take that?
When you stop to consider all the changes that are coming upon us, same-old-same old is getting old even faster than usual. The best reaction is to figure out how to play the changes to our benefit. Pulling up the drawbridge doesn’t seem like a workable strategy right now, if it ever was.
You can’t blame them for wanting a better life. That’s why my mother in law came here. We are pretty far removed now ( several generations ) from the whole immigrant thing. Most people acknowledge a country where their ancestors came from but that’s about it.
Most people I know where born here. So was there parents and grandparents. So although it is true we are a nation of immigrants originally. It doesn’t really have an impact anymore.
Funny, you wrote things I have thought of about the borders. My son is 17 and I’m starting to question him on whether he should go to college at all.
My thought process has changed. I want him to think outside the box also. I don’t want him to be trapped. Of course, if he wants to go it better be for a very good reason and it better be from his mind. Not because he’s told he needs to.
Great article, it’s a tough topic.
Thanks for the mention, not necessary but thanks anyway. I hope more weigh in on the topic.
Another good article. Revalent to our changing times.
My husband and I have been the ?odd balls? in our families since we got married 40 years ago!
Can?t say if it?s helped or hurt but at least we tried to go our own way. Those societal norms definitely got in the way and we?ve had a pretty traditional life but we also moved over 20 times and have head lots of ups and downs but all in all as my husband likes to say we?ve had a good life!!!
Hi Terri – If you’ve had/have a good life, that’s the best of all worlds. A lot of people have a good life if that life is measured by societal standards. But if they’re not happy within that life, it’s almost a life wasted. When you stop to realize we’re not here that long, and all the so called rules really don’t amount to much, there’s no reason not to live life on your own terms. My wife and I often reflect the way you and your husband do, that we’ve had our ups and downs, but on balance, our lives have been good. And we always move toward making it even better as we go forward. I think that’s all any of us can do, especially since we don’t know the future. In the end, life isn’t about grand accomplishments, but about what we do everyday. If you’re happy with that, you’ve achieved happiness, and there’s no need to comply with a set of often arbitrary rules.
Hi Kevin. I think there are a lot of myths out there preventing people from moving forward in their lives, ageism, sexism, racism, religion, etc. However, many of them are being overturned every day. Politics aside, Nancy Pelosi is 78 years old and is the new Speaker of the House. 78 years old! And she is ready, willing, and able to take on the President. It’s not the politics, it’s the age and the fact that she is a woman. Many people at this age are still out there doing whatever it is that they do. Women are advancing at breakneck speed toward their own careers and living their best life possible, in advanced fields, medicine, law, technology, politics, research, aerospace, etc. While we have made tremendous advances over the past few decades, there is still much work to be done, especially with racism.
I think Tim was right when he said we have to know ourselves…and with that believe in ourselves. Like you, I moved away from everything and everyone I knew for a better life, and it turned out okay. Am I an astronaut? Hell no, but I’m still living better than if I had stayed and listened to everyone else instead of believing in myself.
There are so many things that I was taught that are just plain wrong. Some of them obvious, but many are quite subtle. But like others, I didn’t “see” it because my mind and eyes were closed. It wasn’t until late in life that I started to do some introspection and realized that I’ve been sold waterfront property in Arizona! We all have to look within and question if what we are being told is real or just someone else’s viewpoint. We need to teach our children to think for themselves, study the subject, question the narrative, etc. And this doesn’t take a college education; it takes life education.
If I stay on the upbeat side, I believe much progress has been made toward the myths, but there is still much to do…beginning with ourselves.
Hi Bev – Right now I think we’re seeing people “high up there” accomplishing great things, especially late in life. The myth/limitation is that WE can’t do the same. But we’re no different from them. Some people just dare themselves to go to the next level, whatever that is. But most are afraid to try, and that’s where the myths come in. A lot of times the limitation is within.
There was a classic line from the movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, where Sidney Portier, having an argument with his father – who’s irritated with him for planning to marry a white woman – and a frustrated Portier says to his father, “You see yourself as a black man; I see myself as a man.” That was a powerful line, that if you think about it, changes the whole dynamic. He was letting his father know that they were occupying two very different corners of the universe.
I think that’s true for us all. We hang labels on ourselves, or cling to those given us by others. In my own case, my father always said I was lazy, and for much of my life I accepted that to be true. But what I noticed over time is that I excel in certain areas of life that were foreign to him. Part of his use of that label was a control tactic, but it mostly referred to the fact that I wasn’t motivated by the things he considered important. As I got older, I began to realize that I wasn’t lazy at all. In reality, he was lazier than me, in that there were far fewer things he’d do than I would. I never confronted him about this as an adult, and to my knowledge he continued to believe what he did until he died. But the bottom line is that I jettisoned that label a long time ago, and am sometimes astounded by what this person with the lazy label from dear old dad has done and accomplished. You have to reject the negative labels to do that.
I think we all have those labels, often from youth. They may come from parents, kids at school or even the culture. What we hear as kids tends to stay with us a lot longer than it should. But if we could just get past it, realize none of it matters, we can move forward. So in my case, to assume I was lazy, the proper response should be “lazy is what I used to be, but motivated is what I am now.”
Of course, they don’t teach that in school, and a lot of times the beatdown comes from teachers themselves. I.e., some kids got labeled as dumb early in life by teachers, and it caused them to underachieve in life. Others shook off the label and became great successes. One inspiration I had in my 20s was the sales manager at a mortgage company I worked at. The sales manager was a high school drop out, but he was running the place and making more money than anyone else. Now when I hear people say “I don’t have any education”, or “I don’t have any skills”, etc., I’m kind of merciless in saying “forget it, and just move forward, you’ll learn what you need to as you go along.”
As far as the attitudes of society, I agree they’re gradually changing (but some are also getting worse), but we can’t use that as a guide. Your life is your life, and you can’t wait for society to “get it right” before you go about your own course. In some respects, the world will never approve anyway, so why worry what anyone thinks?
It’s always kind of weird for me as a blogger. People love to talk about what they do for a living. But when I mention what I do, their eyes glaze over as if I’m speaking of something other-worldly. It’s outside their paradigm, and I’ve given up trying to make people understand. But I never let that lack of social acceptance stop me. Social acceptance stopped being a factor for me a long time ago, and what a relief that’s been!!! If we can just shake off the social stuff, we’d all be so much better off. Trust me, though I pontificate about this, I’m still a work-in-progress. But believe it or not, it helps living in NH. If there’s a caste system up here, I haven’t run into it yet.
Mom had a huge impact on my life. She frequently said “If you had a brain in your head…” When as a minor she had to sign for me to attend college, and she acted shocked, saying “What do you want to go to college for!” In thge past she had bragged on her friend’s daughhter graduating college as a nurse. Hmm. I gave up college and got married, had my kids, and developed some great confidence. I ran some small in-home businesses successfully. My kids were homeschooled because of one of those horrible teachers saw no value whatsoever in my oldest’s artistic talent and nature. I found the guts to pull the kids out and homeschool when that was not at all socially acceptable. It turned our success impressed many, including our biggest threats and critics, the professionals. When my marriage failed, it disolved my confidence. I just stayed in regular mainstream psych work, and now am still “stuck” there. 62 and running behind. My kids and grandkids anchor me here and bring me joy. For the good and the risks. The job I would have liked pays about 20K less a year. I am not able to absorb all that loss and maintain this place (a city home near the kids) and now since it was a FED job I would have wanted, the job now requires a related degree. I am smart, knowledgeable, active, and talented. And stuck. 🙁 But I continue looking at options and appreciate your article.
Thanks RP. It sounds like your story was one of constantly running against the tide of the “experts”. But as you’ve discovered, confidence can be a fragile thing. My guess is you’ll recover and go forward, but at the same time it’s hard to escape the reality that life isn’t always easy. But I think if you keep moving forward, you’ll eventually come to a better place. It’s all any of us can do.
Hey Kevin, enjoyed your article. Research needs to be done a little more on the wall. Walls do keep criminals and drug trafficking out of countries. That is a fact…that has reason. Millions of people realize that. We welcome people to our country legally. Great article…just needs another perspective of looking at things.
Hi Greg – Great outside perspective. Of course I hope you understand that my use of the word wall is largely metaphorical. Each of us attempt to build various types of walls and moats around ourselves in the vain hope they’ll protect us. But they can just as easily turn into prison cells. A wall is a wall no matter which side of it you’re on, and largely serves the same purpose.
Thanks for writing this article. The world would be a better place one person at a time, if we spoke with our authentic voice. Personally I’m on the journey….
I totally agree Dee. If it’s one thing we need more of, both individually and collectively, it’s more authenticity. What’s interesting is when you deeply engage others you find many of them are dealing with similar struggles. Is we could cooperate, instead of insulate, magical things could happen. I think that’s what we need to embrace.
This is a terrific article. One of the most powerful ones I’ve read in sometime.
Wow Jared, that’s a terrific compliment – thanks!!!