Monday, October 20, 2014

Living Authentically

As I get older, I've realized many things. Not least of them is how often I just went with the flow, changing my own likes and dislikes just to try to fit in. It didn't help, of course. I was different as a child, and no matter how hard you try to blend in, the bullies will almost always find you. Deciding to peg jeans, wear two pairs of socks, ditching Tiffany and Debbie Gibson for NKOTB, and doing my best to fly under the radar - none of it changed anything; I was still a target, and despite all my efforts, the bullying never really abated until I left compulsory education.

Once I was in charge of my own education, I mostly went with what seemed easiest - being in school for so long really left me utterly disillusioned with the entire institution. I wanted, for many years, to be a doctor. Pediatric oncology was my specialty of choice for many years. But, after the horrible time I had at school, I went with something that wouldn't have me in a seat for eight or more years. I came out with a BS degree that I still laugh about, because it really was a BS degree  for me. I learned very little that I didn't already know - but I did learn a little bit about being me. Really, truly, genuinely me.

Mathematics for elementary teachers, we all taught a lesson in a group to the rest of the class. One group was attempting to teach addition by the Gauss method (adding 1+2+3+4+5...+99+100 by [1+100]* [100/2]), and asked the rest of us to find how many pips would be on a twenty-sided die, expecting us to add [1+20]*[20/2] to get 210. Immediately, I put my hand up and gave my answer: two.  There was much laughing, and I clarified: "There are two pips on a twenty-sided die. One for the six, and one for the nine."  This was met with declarations of the lack of existence of a twenty-sided die, and I happened to have one in my pocket that day. Two pips.

I kept pushing. I eventually ran into a wall, mostly of my own design, and stopped pushing so hard to really be myself. Again, I hit a major shift in my life, and again, I decided to not only keep walking onward, but to just be me. My motto became "Life's too short." And so, I decided to just be myself. Life is too short to hide, to try to be invisible, to be inherently unhappy. Now, I just am. I am myself. I say what I think, I do what feels right to me, and I don't mince words.

Skeeve tells me I'm a hipster - but before hipsters were a thing. I don't like the things that are popular. The reasoning, though, is what sets me away from the hipster crowd. It's not that I prefer things to be edgy or think that they lose integrity when they become popular. I just don't like the same things as the bulk of society, so the things geared to them are of no interest to me. Big Bang Theory. Fifty Shades of Grey. Purses, matching socks, television in general. I have no desire to be involved in any of it. And I really don't care. Most people don't get me. They think I'm intentionally difficult, they think I'm just belligerent, they think I'm rude and mean. And I've finally reached the point where I don't think I care. I am myself. I like what I like, I dislike what I dislike, and I will not be swayed by popular culture into giving my time and attention to things I don't want to do - just for the sake of fitting in. And I'm okay with that. It took me a very long time, but I'm learning how to be me. How to be an individual - how to shine. How to live authentically instead of invisibly. It's a beautiful thing.

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