Ask yourself this question (though you probably have the answer ready): “Do I feel different to everyone else?” Chances are, if you’ve had long-running health challenges, the answer is “yes”. Have you always felt somewhat marginalised, on the fringe or having to bend yourself to fit in? As more and more of us stretch the conventional boundaries of what it is to be human in the 21st century, our bodies can become the interface that tells us how hard we are finding that, giving rise to the biggest wave of “mystery illnesses” of modern times. At the very deepest cellular level, they can become the very frontier land of where a conflict of perspectives is taking place.
Perhaps its social media but sheep-like behaviour has never felt more pervasive. I watch my daughter’s struggles to be different to the flock and suspect its a whole other ballgame to when I was that quirky kid at school. These days, daring to be different can feel like you’re subjected to the harshest kind of backlash and the true rebellion is being the one who isn’t having casual sex, drinking to oblivion or taking drugs like they are Smarties. These days (and perhaps I show my age here…) I’m not talking about a desire to be different by being rebellious or a little bit “punk” or “emo”, stabbing pins through your nose….no, true “different” these days is daring to be something quieter, less showy or stage-managed, its about being more inner than about the number of “likes” you get or the drunken parties you go to. Its about seeing beyond all that at an early age, like you have the wisdom of ages already in you and already know that is all just a silly growing-up phase that you prefer to bypass to get to the real substance of life without wasting any more time on it. Its being different to the point that you see all the funny dances of human behaviour for what they are and have no patience with them or their small talk, their preoccupations with money, cool points, fame, one-upmanship and the never-ending desire for more possessions. You long for something more lasting and meaningful, far less rooted in drama or addiction and closer to your sense of divinity and the very broadest “meaning” of life. You long for others to join you where you are, seeing it all for what it is, instead of being so sucked into those dramas that they think that is literally all there is to life. Since you were only 12 or 15 (perhaps even younger than that), you could sense a much vaster picture of everything, spanning multiple lifetimes and are still waiting and waiting for everyone else to wake-up so that they can see it all too. In fact, you spend your whole life feeling like the excited kid that is awake extra-early on Christmas morning; just longing for everyone else to rise up from their slumbers and start opening up all the gifts that are waiting for them under the tree.
This can be challenging enough when you’re a teen but, some twenty or thirty years later, the sense of loneliness, yes, impatience and of being an absolute misfit can have become pernicious and cellular. Its been a long time since I first traced the unhealthy roots of my chronic health issues back to the deepest sense of loneliness and “not belonging” that had been with me for so long I hardly knew a life when the feeling wasn’t there, although it became harder to contend with after puberty and into young adulthood. Those were the years when I took all the big knocks and tried…so very hard…to withdraw and conform in ways that were utterly self-defeating, though I only see that fully now.
But colour it another way…it takes a particular kind of courage and determination to be a pioneer of a whole other way of thinking that is helping to form the cracks of light into a the transformed reality that this world so badly needs. In all cases across history, it is the contrary thinking, the new and the challenging that springs the leak on a world that feels “stuck” in its ways. Face it, you’ve done some of your profoundest inner-work in that time alone feeling so marginalised and perhaps its time to share those gifts around to others like you who would welcome the helping hand. All those years spent like a fish swimming tirelessly upstream will be rewarded in full by the magnificently liberated perspective you get to enjoy in the middle of your life rather than at its very end (in place of the sudden “crack” in the ice that is the classic mid-life crisis), as I am now discovering for myself. And forging new territory is always going to mean you are the one breaking news, peddling viewpoints that are foreign, saying things that no one is used to hearing, provoking those uncomfortable thoughts, suggesting the unsuggestible, seeming all a bit too eccentric for a lot of people’s taste. Probably, you feel like it is taking every ounce of your stamina to keep giving like you do and yet no one seems to want to accept the precious gifts that you bring to this world since, being so new as to lack definition, most people often don’t (yet…) know what to make of them. You might still feel (though you are pretty used to it by now) that you are the one that people roll their eyes at or sidle away from at the social gatherings; even before you’ve said a word since people can sense your dissenter energy as soon as you enter a room.
So you have a choice; you conform (or you try to, probably making a complete hash of it) and you make yourself ill with the untruth of how you are delivering yourself to the world, or you own it and value the “you” that has this amount of courage, stamina and self-worth. You thank yourself in advance for being part of the movement towards what the world needs more of in order to question the status quo and evolve. You find your tribe (doesn’t matter if they are down the street or across the other side of the planet) and you forge deep and mutually transformative friendships with those people, until you appreciate all that you are SO thoroughly, so deeply and without reservation that you wouldn’t give yourself up for all the tea in china.
And when you stop giving yourself up (or up on yourself and your right to be here thriving), including all those very qualities that make you seem so different to other people, you discover…remarkably quickly…that your body stops giving up on you too. It may be so subtle that you initially attribute the up-turn to other things but, somewhere at the bedrock of you, you know that something significant altered the day you stopped trying to alter yourself. When, instead of suppressing and shoving back down all of your most inherent urges, you allowed them up into daylight and followed them, curious to see where they led, what they seeded, what new opportunities and friendships and wonderful new lifestyles grew out of them. You will likely forge a whole-different set of circumstances on the back of this newly liberated “you” and suddenly you’re in a life that fits and supports you – exactly the way you are. Circumstances and people start to present themselves accordingly and you don’t feel so alone or disconnected any more; you have your roots in the ground and can start to blossom into the springtime of your life…whatever the linearity of time tries to tell you (it’s never too late).
So begins the most expansive era of growth and personal evolution of your life and your health will start to keep abreast with this since your body’s morale to do so has never felt more supported or purposeful. Your desire to be here and to thrive will skyrocket in proportion to how rooted you feel in this world, which is a reflection of how positively you interpret what you bring to life (yes, giving your gifts to the world…however coolly they are being received, for the moment) and how life supports you when you are being that way (which you measure most accurately in experiences rather than the income they bring in…at least initially, through the rest will follow in due course if you trust it to do so). Before long, these two things start to dance around each other with ever more life-giving energy until – at the centre of their spiralling dynamic – you, your health and wellbeing take off like a rocket. This is the way of the universe; you already have this fundamental impulse on your side and can ride its wave just as soon as you stop resisting all that you are, embracing your uniqueness as the most direct route to your own highest evolution and everyone else’s too.
2 thoughts on “Daring to be different”
Helen, have you written a book yet? You are one of the most amazing writers I’ve ever seen and have so much wisdom to offer. I loved this post..the most touching line for me was the about being a pioneer helping to form the cracks of light.
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Oh Lori…very timely words…I just started writing a book last week (gulp) and already have most of the chapter outlines and copious notes, the trick will be to keep it succinct and organised. I also need to do serious research into the publishing options as I don’t want it to just languish in the heaps of unread self-published books on Amazon, this is all new territory to me! Will be diving in with the writing process pretty soon…in the meantime I am going to save your words as motivation and morale boost, deeply appreciated! ❤