As I have been making my way through the book a second time, noting down things that are important for my journey, I was reminded of something that I would like to share.
I thought of the ‘me’ I was twenty years ago, and how she would have reacted had she read this book back then. That ‘me’ was inclined to still be quite naive, and opinionated in a sense that what I believed was the only way and if you didn’t agree, you were wrong.
Oh my! How I missed out on so many valuable things along the way!
It had a lot to do with the belief systems that were taught to me from a young age – passed down to me. (I wrote a post about belief systems here last year – pardon the language.) The thing is that I was never encouraged to form and build on my own belief system. There was no freedom to think out of the box – it was a scenario relatively close to ‘’it’s my way, or the highway’’. And if I didn’t live inside that box, then I was a failure, and unworthy. And I BELIEVED I was!
But you see….
That particular belief system probably originated from the generation prior. Because we build and live according to what we know. And some of us are not fortunate enough to ever ‘broaden our horizons’. I’ve had a lot of life experience in a lot of areas – sometimes I feel like I’ve already done life three times over. 😛
There are studies that have shown that as a child, the more we get exposed to, the more our immune system builds. It gets strengthened by the yucky stuff. I often joke that part of the reason my immune system is so strong can be accredited to gravel (a selection of small stones all together). When I was 5, our school had gravel beneath the swings. In hindsight, it wasn’t such a wonderful thing because if you jumped off the swing and lost your balance, it hurt! I would sit in that swing and gently rock myself back and forth, sucking stones that I had picked out from the gravel. Ewwww! I know! I also played in the dirt a lot, even in my white dress with red polka dots, much to my mother’s horror. (I ruined that dress on my 6th birthday at my party when I fell out of a tree 😛 )
But I also wasn’t very sick as a child, so perhaps that’s why?
Here’s how I think this relates to my own belief system (which is continuously growing, just by the way) :
I was brought up inside the box. To the extreme. And from a little girl, I fought with that lid.
I have had more than my fair share of bad experiences – some where I carry the responsibility, and some that were circumstantial and out of my control. I have also had some good experiences, and although they have left me with positive emotions and a lot to laugh about, none of them have ‘changed’ me.
The bad experiences have allowed me to grow, and become stronger. The lid has flown right off that box, and I am no longer bound by the way I was taught that things ‘should be’.
I don’t fully agree with everything written in the book I am now ‘studying’. Does that make the author a bad person, a failure in some areas, not worth listening to? NO! Because there is a LOT that I do agree with, and needed to hear. And the things I don’t agree with? I have ‘listened to’ anyway, because it has given me another view of something in me that was ‘concrete’ (no, I didn’t swallow any of the gravel 😛 ). And quite honestly, I need to think about what she has said.
It comes down to a firm belief that everyone is different, and that just because I believe or think the way I do, you don’t have to! And it doesn’t mean that you are worth less as a person, or that you cannot impact my life, or that we can’t be friends.
My perspectives and my beliefs and values? They’re mine. I can share them with you, I can hope that my experiences will help you or just impact you positively. But I can’t fight with you and be angry with you just because you aren’t in complete agreement with me.
Besides, you may have much to teach me if we don’t think alike, and I might miss out of the beauties of friendship and life in general if I build myself back into a box.
(I do have to add this though: I can’t put myself in harm’s way, and so sadly there are some interactions that I am forced to avoid. But these are definitely few and far between.)
We need to embrace what makes us different – celebrate your quirks, and even the things that you can’t do. And then pause for a moment and accept that someone else is probably in the same boat as you : different… trying to embrace themselves.
I’ll end with this : Someone told me the other day (in agreement with me saying that I am a very open person who doesn’t leave much to the imagination) that ‘mystery is not my superpower’.
I loved that! And had a good laugh! Of course I’d like to NOT always be so open, because I love a good mystery and so do many other people out there, but it’s the way I am and it makes me ‘me’. And I have learned to embrace it and celebrate it.
Besides, I have other superpowers 😉 *stands and swoops her cape dramatically and clicks ‘publish’*