Individuality can be a beautiful. Unfortunately, it is not always embraced in society though.
As children, being unique can cause problems. We quickly learn to fit into groups, clicks and norms to avoid standing out or being “weird.” We learn how to behave and perform in “normal” ways. To some extent, this learning is a good thing of course. We learn how to function in society with morals, order and discipline. We learn to share, contribute and work.
The problem comes in though if some of these lessons hold us back. Maybe our culture or norms say boys cannot be dancers. Girls cannot be scientists. Artists with blue hair must clearly be on drugs. People that are too nice are fake. It is those teachings or beliefs that could shape our perceptions on others and what is “acceptable” for us to do.
Some people may want to do something, but hold back due to fear. They think it may be weird, odd or silly. They dampen their excitement or actions so that others will not look upon them harshly or awkwardly. This is when the problem arrives.
This is when society is missing out. For when a person holds back from their passion, they limit their potential. They do not reach the inner most parts of their soul and their purpose in life. They are merely a shell existing in the world.
I lived as a shell for years. Don’t get me wrong, I was a productive member of society, but I was not passionate. I was not the ultimate me. I completed my degree. I worked a full time job. I had kids. I was in debt on all the great American things: home, car, and credit cards. I had the “perfect” life when viewed by others. But, I was miserable.
I married young and my high school sweet heart and I just grew apart. We wanted different things in life, but we stayed together. We stayed because of the commitment of marriage-you should not divorce. We stayed together out of spite-people never thought we’d make it anyway. We stayed out of respect for that youthful person we both fell in love with-this is who we chose and needed to stick with it. We stayed because it was all we knew-it was a scary thought to start a new relationship. It only made us both unhappy though. We were not a team but we were not embracing our own individuality either. It was just simple, unhappy existence.
With time and wisdom, we both realized it was time to move on. We both realized we needed to find ourselves again, or who we should have been all along.
After divorcing, I have traveled a path of self-discovery. I have stopped caring what society says I should do. I have stopped being afraid of rejection. I have stopped wondering what if. If I want to try it, I do. If I want to see it, I go. If I want to taste it, I eat. I am not saying that I am out of control and wild and running amuck naked through the streets. No, that is not on my wish list of desires at the moment. Maybe later though.
What I am doing though is living, and doing it with passion. No longer do I worry that people will say I am too over the top, too excited, too silly. What do I care if they think that? I don’t. The funny thing is that my closest and dearest loved ones are happy for me. They see me evolving and taking risks. They see me becoming who they always thought I was anyway. The only difference now, is that I am seeing it now too. I am learning my uniqueness is my strength. My individuality, my passion. My spirit, my power. The more I embrace what is truly me, the happier I become.
James F. Cooper summed up the importance of individuality quite well. “All greatness of character is dependent on individuality. The man who has no other existence than that which he partakes in common with all around him, will never have any other than an existence of mediocrity.”
I had mediocrity. Been there. Done that. Now, I want greatness. However, my “greatness” is not fame nor fortune. No. Not at all. My greatness is fairly simple and defines me.
These days, my greatness is defined as just experiencing joy in my life, and becoming more and more who I am supposed to be. I always dreamt of having a horse, so now I have one. My horse is not an elegant jumping thoroughbred and I am not a gifted rider with designer equestrian clothes. But, we trod through the woods in utter appreciation of God’s world before us. (I know this about my mare since she seems quite happy to eat the different types of grass as we walk along.) Since I was a kid, I wanted to write…and now I finally do. Sure yeah, it is just on this blog so far, but you know what, that is perfect for me. I am writing from my soul and freeing my thoughts. That is more than I have done in years and I will enjoy it. A few years ago, I had my dream job in photography, but due to financial obligations (and the collapse of the market a few years back), I had to change to something a little more stable-government technical editing. It may not be my perfect job, but it is certainly helping my writing skills. And, I have started a photography blog and do random shoots here and there to fulfill my photography need. All the things I wanted to do (paddle board yoga, painting, kayaking, etc.) but never made time to do before or was too scared to try, I am now doing-even when I have to do them alone.
Overall, there are just so many things that are wonderful in my life. I am not bragging though because to some, they are just boring average accomplishments. I am not discovering a cure for cancer. I am not winning any awards. However, for me, I could not ask for more.
Like this cute, goofy bug, I am happy to sit in my own space and be happy. While on a military base recently, I was running along some barely traveled range roads. There, I found this simple side-of-the-road day lily. I’d bet that it is probably not noticed among the weeds by many, but I stopped. And when I did, I couldn’t help but see this wonderful little bug. I was drawn to his big goofy eyes (or so they looked to be when shooting with my macro app on my iPhone). There he sat, as happy as a bug could look. He let me take some pictures and I went on my way.
This seemingly insignificant moment made me think. This bug didn’t need much. He didn’t need an elaborate garden. He seemed just as content here as anywhere else. He was doing his thing and from all I could see, doing it his way. And that is exactly how I want to be. Wherever I am at in life, I want to be happy. And to do that, I must be the true me regardless of what others think. So for now, I will embrace my individuality of being a silly, passionate person who can take 20 photos of a bug on a flower…and then write about it.