Recently, there was a letter sent to someone that pertained to my son. In this letter, the person who wrote it advised the recipient to teach my son some things about how he should interact with his peers. She commented on some of his personality traits and told the recipient of the letter to advise my son not to do those things if he wants to have/make friends when he goes back to high school next year instead of being home schooled.
The letter triggered many things for me, but the biggest thing it triggered was the way I felt as a child when I was told I needed to conform to this or that. I was frequently told to quit daydreaming. Well, my daydreaming has turned into the fiction I write and I have been paid for writing, the career path I am currently on. If I had listened and stopped daydreaming, I wouldn’t be a writer today.
I’m quirky. I’m definitely ‘not’ normal, and for many years, I was told I had to conform to that norm. Go to college, get a job, work hard for 50+ years of my life, marry someone, have a couple of kids, and eventually die, hopefully sometime after the mortgage is paid off.
That path wasn’t for me.
That path isn’t for everyone.
I know that as a teenager, not ‘fitting’ in is tough. My daughter was one of those who could sort of fit in with anyone, because she didn’t fit in with any one specific group. I know for others who don’t fit into the neat little boxes and labels we give people, they might suffer from that, but my daughter never did.
I don’t want my son to conform to someone else’s vision of who he should be. He should be who he is, and find people who accept him that way, instead of changing who he is in order for some specific group to accept him.
This is true of everyone out there. There are people who feel the same as me, and then there are those who feel they must conform to someone else’s standards. The people trying to conform live in agony, perhaps even without realizing it. Life feels mundane, blocked, boring, hard, noneventful, stale, dull, and a whole arsenal of other words. These feelings lead to physical, mental and emotional problems. Mostly, they lead to an unfulfilled life.
Instead of trying to change who you are to fit in with someone else’s vision of ‘normal’, try to surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are. It takes time, but trust me: being alone is actually preferable to being with someone who can’t and won’t let you be you.
Be yourself. Discover who you are for you and then be that person. When you’re okay with who you are, the people who are attracted to the real you will come around. I promise they will.
One reason someone might have trouble meeting people or maintaining a relationship is that it’s hard to maintain a relationship in which the other party doesn’t have a clue who you really are inside. They might love the image you portray, the ‘you’ that you project, but it’s not who you are deep down, and there’s no way that will be fulfilling to you.
So while I know the person who wrote this letter meant well and had the very best of intentions and had my son’s best interests at heart, the letter revealed a lot to me about the person who received this letter who grew up with this mindset from a parent. It made me understand her a lot better. It also made me sad. No one should ever have to stop being themselves to please someone else. Anyone who believes that’s how life should be lived, I feel a bit sorry for them, because they are likely not very happy people.
I, on the other hand, am surrounded by people I love who love me for who I am, faults, quirks, irritabilities and all. I love my life, am happy, and I love who I am too. I’m not normal; I’m probably partially insane, but I am happy, truly happy, with my life. How many people can say that, honestly, and mean it?
I feel blessed.
Be who you are. Let people discover YOU.
Lastly, if you’re a fiction writer, you cannot write other people well until you get to know yourself very well. If you can’t look at the dark secrets hidden in the closet, the bones buried in your basement, the idiosynchrasies you try to hide from the world–if you can’t honestly and openly look at those, you’ll never be one of the great fiction writers. Being a good fiction writer means being able to see yourself the way you are and to see the world in all its glory and horribleness at the same time and still stay sane to write about it.
Okay, mostly sane, that is.
Love and stuff,