Be Yourself

"This is my style, this is who I am." - Duck in Enid Oklahoma

Spunky duck in Enid, Oklahoma

Have you ever been told that something was wrong with you because you were somehow different?  You are just being, I don’t know, yourself, when someone interjects that you’ve done something out of the ordinary, something wrong.  You might be reading a book aloud so you can hear it.  You might be practicing a yoga move in the courtyard to get your blood flowing. You might close your eyes when you listen.  You might sketch or write songs compulsively.  “Nobody is like that,” they say. “But I’m like that,” you say.  “You should change to be more like everyone else,” they say.  “But why?” you ask.  “You’re the only one,” they say, and, “Trust me, you need to change. You don’t fit in.”

But is being different a valid critique?  In many ways, you must be different, because you must be you.  Virginia Satir, a therapist and appreciator of originality, wrote the perhaps obvious truth: to be anything other than you, “is to thwart nature.”  But why is that so hard to for some see?

Sticking together. Ducklings in Mildenhall, England.

Sticking together. Ducklings in Mildenhall, England.

Perhaps it’s because the model of conformity is easy to follow, natural, even.  We’re told to go with the mainstream, middle ground, where we’re sure to get by. Go with places most know and trust, not the places where we may fail. But sometimes, the crowd can lead you astray. Sometimes it’s best to look at our own unique hopes and dreams, because at the end of the day, and at the end of a lifetime, you will want to know if you ever followed that dream that’s deep within your heart, and did you give it your best or did you give up?

It seems that today, extroversion is a bit more appreciated than introversion.  My mom, in her extroversion, was annoyed by my extreme introversion.  She would question, “How are you going to survive in the world, being so quiet and anti-noise?”  As it turns out, I am quiet and I am sensitive, but I’m glad I am.  It allows me to feel and observe the world more closely.  I survive, I thrive, by writing and by making time to read (just a couple examples).  What sort of things feed your soul? Spending time in nature, or in museums, or fashion design?  What inklings do you choose to pursue?

Any of us can be told we should fall in line with the world as they see it. But can’t we see the flaw in this reasoning?  We are the world. By telling each other that we should all be the same, we are projecting some sort of unquestioning assimilating world on each other. But shouldn’t we be the world as it is meant to be, not the world as we fear it?

The Swan. Mildenhall, England.

The Swan. Mildenhall, England.

We forget that the world is us.  We can tell each other that we are valuable, that our perspectives have meaning. We can see that we were born different and variety is normalcy.  If you like this line of thought, which has been influenced by my recent reading, I would highly recommend the book, The New Peoplemaking by Virginia Satir.  She shows how to appreciate each other, peacefully co-exist, and how to create a nurturing environment within a family. We’re all different, and we should learn how to respect and appreciate that!

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