All my life I've been called words like idealistic, a dreamer, weird, bohemian and a "magical thinker". All of these things have been said in judgment and criticism by much more "practical" people. I'm sure some of those people thought I would "drift" and not accomplish much in my life and, in fact, one even told me as much once. But I've run my own consulting business for 20 years, own my own home, have a hobby/career on the side...I have friends, I have blog and book readers who are not related to me and I'm a good, kind person despite the knocks and jabs I've encountered in my life.
In short, I have achieved everything "practical people" have and did it all on my own terms without sacrificing too much of my individuality to the paths society says we must take to succeed. Even though I'm not fabulously wealthy or notable, my "magical thinking" and bohemian ways have worked for me just as well (if not better in some regards) as have the ways of those who color carefully within the lines, subscribe to all social mores, pay attention to appearances and act like good boys and girls.
In fact, if I were being totally honest with you, I'd say my bohemian ways work better, because I see a lot of unhappy, angry people out there who may not know why they're angry, but it very well may have to do with all the choices they make to conform to a norm that doesn't value the individual. They want and/or need to stir up a little weirdness in their lives, but won't out of the societal-based fears imposed upon us to keep us in order.
The truth is, at this point in our lives, very few of us are going to go rogue if we just. let. go. of some of these rules we just take for granted and never question. I've zigged when others have zagged all my life and have never gone so goofy that I've made a huge "mistake" or ended up with regrets. In a way, it's the difference between commissioning a custom-made life rather than just buying the ready-to-ship model. I think, for some, it never occurred that an off-the-rack life existed. And, of course, for some, the ready-to-wear life fits into their plans just fine.
Somewhere along the line, society created a livable structure and great ideas for the masses, but some of those ideas are just too restrictive for individuals. We've been trained to over apologize, put ourselves last, not cause a commotion, be politically correct and adhere to standards of dress, behavior and all outward appearances—and those are just a few examples of the bajillions of things we do each day without thinking.
And, hey, sometimes society is right. But sometimes, depending on who we are, these things are suffocating. And sometimes we don't realize it, because we never gave our individuality a chance, because we were too busy being homogeneous and accepted and not judged for expressing ourselves too colorfully. And the price of that is reaching a certain age and not really knowing what's "you" and what's been manufactured for you. And nobody is immune to that. Self knowledge is a journey more than a destination.
A number of years back, I had a bit of a crisis over this. I started asking myself "what part of me is genuine to me and what part is something I wittingly or unwittingly adopted out of fear of judgment, bullying, mockery or rejection?" Try it and you'll find it's extremely difficult to excavate the "you you came here to be" out of the "you you've become." It's not a black and white thing, especially when you consider a certain part of you wants to be liked and accepted, so therefore choosing to conform in some cases *is* genuine to who you are.
And it's not a case of the self-actualized being "free" and everyone else being in prison. There are prisons on both sides of the issue. To be individual, you live in the prison of being on the edge of society and not understood by all the others. To be be like all the others, you live in a prison where you never quite explore the boundaries of your individuality and learn who you are.
A long time ago, I learned that my happiness depended on which prison I could be more accepting of (or free myself from). It really depends on what you believe about why you're here and what your purpose is in life. In general, I believe I'm here to explore my individuality and actively grow as an individual and as a soul. More specifically, however, I believe part of my purpose is sharing the kinds of thoughts I'm sharing right now. Spiritually speaking, "idealism" and "weirdness" are the most practical choices for me because I'm here to see life through a different lens and share that with others. Anything else would have limited my soul's journey here on earth. I couldn't write of the things I write of if mind were too tethered to conventionality and the kinds of things that "shouldn't be discussed publicly."
I think we often miscalculate (or don't calculate at all) what we're here to be caretakers of. If your beliefs include a soul, we're here as caretakers of our souls first. And if we're doing that properly, it begets being a caretaker of the earth, a caretaker of others, a caretaker of self, society, dogs or even shiny floors, depending on where your soul guides you. But there's one thing most soul-believers can agree upon—souls are boundless. And boundlessness doesn't fit well into the mold of convention. Each time we shoehorn ourselves into an aspect of persona that doesn't fit, that's when we experience disharmony in our lives.
I may not be the highest achiever in society's terms. I earn an average living. My home is in a working class neighborhood. I don't toil over my lawn. I'm not the best housekeeper. But I do think I'm an overachiever in terms of my soul. I wasn't always this way, but have become more so as I've been freeing myself from the prison where the opinions and acceptance of others matters to me. Of course, I'll probably never be fully free of that, but as I chisel away at that, I'm clearing away issues that the next person my soul inhabits won't have to deal with. Plus I'm bringing myself more to peace. It's a win for all.
Geez, I have so much more to say on this topic...so many rabbit holes to dive deeper into. But for now, I'll just leave you with some questions to think about on your own. You don't have to answer them all at once, and you get your entire lifetime to come up with the answers. :D Some "very practical" people may not see the point in even asking, but for the rest, think about how you'd feel about about leaving this earth without even considering the answers and move forward with that in mind.
- What are you here to accomplish? And what parts of you are integral to making that happen? Why were you born who you are?
- Why did you end up with your particular family? What parts of who you are now were shaped by society? By your family? By yourself? What have each of those influences (whether negative or positive) contributed to your mission?
- What is your plan for your soul in this lifetime? What do you hope will be your legacy in terms of your soul?
- What part or parts of yourself have you tuned out (or turned the volume down on) because, somewhere along the line you got social cues that it wasn't "acceptable"? And is that ok? Was society right about that? Or is it something you want/need to reclaim?
- What will you have healed in this lifetime so the lesson doesn't have to be repeated by the next iteration of you? What did some previous person who had your soul heal so that you wouldn't have to deal with it this time around?