I have always felt that I didn’t really fit in. I think deep down, almost all of us feel this way about one aspect or another of our lives. Why is that?
We live in a culture where we are raised with many “shoulds” and “supposed-tos.” After we get that from family upbringing and our years in school, it continues into adulthood with the workplace and the ever-present, ever-loud media. Look this way. Eat this food. Buy these clothes. Wear this makeup. Have this job. Get married. Have kids. Have this kind of relationship. Have this kind of family. Consider this activity fun. Hate this other activity. Spend your time this way. Spend your money here, and here, and here. Consider this important. Consider this worthless. Bombardment!
All this forms a culture’s norms, and woe be to the individual who deviates! That feeling of not conforming can cause A LOT of discomfort. I consider myself pretty smart and self-aware, but I still got tangled up in norms and made some big life decisions because that’s what I felt was just the thing to do. I was in a relationship with a good guy, so you get married, right? But marriage was a bad fit for me. And anything wrong with a relationship that isn’t his fault must be mine, right? It’s not that we just aren’t a good match. Some lessons are learned the hard way.
People have always been pretty accepting of my “spiritual weird.” I could even find communities of like-minded souls, and it was juicy and good! But all of a sudden, at the age of 32, I had an epiphany: I do not approach relationships and sex like most people! Only through deep introspection and serious delving into AVEN did I realize that only having romantic feelings for people you are friends with first is not the norm. Only then did I realize the fact that I could take or leave sex was weird. It was a lot to process, but embracing this about myself made all the difference in my well-being. I worked hard to balance being true to myself and doing what was fair for my then-husband. Today, I am fortunate to have an ex-husband who is still a friend and understands that this was part of my journey.
NEWSFLASH: Our Western culture is seriously messed up. If you don’t feel like you fit in, that is very likely a GOOD THING. Everyone is unique. Embrace your weird. As you come to identify with the mainstream culture less and less, you will feel more at home with who you are and your own flavor of weird. Even if you think you are savvy, like I thought I was, question. Look deeper. “Just because,” doesn’t cut it anymore, if you are looking to move towards an authentic life. The influence of norms is subtle and pervasive, but being aware is a great first step!
Tomorrow we will get back into the Listening topics.