moving against the herd

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As a self-defined individualist and free spirit, it’s sometimes a struggle to live amongst the crowd. When you molded and embraced a very unique way of thinking and living for yourself, it’s expected that people will push up against you, or even criticize or judge you. One observation I have made in society is how much people dislike/resist change or difference. And you can boil this down all the way into a micro level when someone rolls their eyes or tosses a disdainful comment your way just because you’re different from them.

On a personal level, it’s always been a difficult act for me to stay true to myself, all the while allowing myself to stay open to alternative perspectives. I strive to keep an open mind, but I have moments when I feel as if I am “too open” and almost allow someone to take complete control of my decisions. Letting them tell me what to do.

I’ve been reading a book by Brene Brown, and one of the many things that resonated with me in it is this: “When we start polling people, it’s often because we don’t trust our own knowing. It feels too shaky and too uncertain,” and “…rather than respecting a strong internal instinct, we become fearful and look for assurances from others.” I fall guilty to this behavior, and I’m calling myself out. I ask people’s opinion all the time on my decisions. But then I have two conflicting parts of me: one that is assertive, empowered, and seeking to actualize her full potential and forever stay true to who she is, and the other that is still seeking acceptance and approval of others, while doubting her judgment and instinct on things.

It’s been ingrained in me to avoid conflict, and I’m becoming more aware of how embedded it is in me through my choices and behaviors. Instead of asking my inner self, I ask others. And when I ask others, I agree and even question my judgment. I avoid conflict. Yet by avoiding conflict and rejection, and agreeing with everything, I’m giving control of my life decisions to others. I’m contradicting my true, inner desire, which is to be me in everything I do. It’s no wonder then why it’s been so hard for me to hear my inner voice and instincts.

In my last post, I talked about the pressure of staying practical in all things, which has caused me to gradually lose touch with my “dreamer” or creative side. I think this is a perfect example of this struggle. I’ve been having pressure all around me to be practical about everything and anything, but at the same time, I feel my inner, empowered self resisting, saying, “But Anna, I don’t want to be practical all of the time. I want to engage in my dreams, my imagination, my hopes and aspirations. Do we have to give that up just to stay practical? Can’t we hold both? Please, don’t forget your dreams.”

People keep telling me what to do, and although I understand their logic, I also want to do things that are right for me. I want to trust my instincts. I want to stay true to my nature.

So this is my area of growth: learning to be okay with moving against the herd, and with rejecting what people tell me when I don’t feel right about it, no matter how “logical” it sounds. Because as much as we forget this, logic does not equate with truth. Rather, logic is a means of understanding truth. And there are almost always other ways of perceiving. And although something may be right for one person, that does not mean it is right for everyone. Sometimes it helps to get others’ perspectives, but we have to be aware that we don’t have to do it another person’s way if it doesn’t feel right for us. It’s okay to disagree and go your own way. Part of life is exploring and discovering what is specifically right for you.

And sometimes trusting our instincts and following our hearts means risking rejection or being unconventional. But then we have to ask ourselves in those moments: am I going to let myself, or everyone else take control of my life? Do I want to actualize my true inner self, or become like the herd? Who do I want to be?

The choice is always up to us.

decision point

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I awoke yesterday with an odd feeling, a stark realization washing over my body. It seemed to be saying, “You are not living out your intended purpose. You are not reaching your full potential.” It is as if for the past month, I have entered a state of stagnation. And after talking with a friend, I came to a clearer picture of where I am at this point in my life.

There are multiple ways to get to one destination. Different streets you can take, turns you can make. Life is essentially that. It is made up of the turns we choose to take. How will we get to our intended destination? And in what ways will we change as we embark on that journey? I realized that at this very moment, I am standing on the street, still deciding. “Should I turn left or right? Which one is right?” But I came to see that for most things in life, there is no clear “right” or “wrong.” Life is not as black and white as we want to make it, as simplistic as we wish it was. And you want to know to your very bones that the choices you make will bring you the most happiness, will lead you farthest from pain, that it will all be wonderful and great. But that too, does not speak to the true nature of the human experience. No matter which road we take, we will experience pain. There will be ups and downs, struggles and obstacles. And we have no way to see into the future and calculate the what-ifs with complete certainty. But we should not be seeing obstacles in such a negative light the way that we do. It is by our struggles we grow and gain opportunities to test and reach our full potential.

Really, it seems to come down to this: it’s not always a matter of making the “right” choice, but about making a choice. It is through these choices we live life, continue on that journey. That is why I have been struck with this feeling as if I am not living out my purpose. It is because I am not moving and putting off making those choices. I kept telling myself, I cannot make them because I am not getting confirmation which one is right, I am scared of making the wrong choice. But I see now that my conceptualization is wrong. I cannot put off these things in my life because of my fears of not being right. When I do, I fall into this state of stagnation, I stop in my journey toward my dreams, I stop living life. In these instances and truly, many decision points on our journey, there really is no right or wrong. We just have to look at the information we have at the present and make the best choice that we can in that moment.

Maybe it is all my fears that are holding me back. Maybe it is simply that the street has grown comfortable, even if I have grown bored with it. Maybe there is something way beyond my awareness beating brightly, but my eyes are trained on something else. Maybe it is all of these things that keep my muscles knotted and breath caught. But no matter how much fog there is around me, this is perfectly clear. I need to move. I need to make a choice. By choosing to live, even in the face of great fear, I obtain the courage I will dearly need as this journey progresses. Only I have the power to make the life I desire… all through these choices I make.