Growing up in a very cushy community made me learn that success was defined by the amount of recognition you got. It made me peg self-worth to success. As a student that meant getting good grades and winning competitions. It meant doing something my parents would be proud to share with their friends. It meant failing math and sciences meant I was not as smart as the rest; I was different from the general cohort; at the lower end of the bell curve. Growing up, being different didn’t do you any good. While I performed better in the arts, boldy pursuing it was only worthy when it meant I could win competitions or translated to an ‘A’ grade.
Being different became more apparent as I grew up. I wasn’t motivated to study because I didn’t know what I wanted to do and didn’t see how what I was learning could be applied in my life. In uni I was at least sure of one thing – that the education that I needed wasn’t going to come from my teachers. I guess having the freedom then to pursue whatever I wanted gave me a little bit more street cred. Whether it was getting jobs outside of school, or dancing. I never found real fulfilment in any of these, but at least it was something to do.
After graduating, the feeling of being different intensified. While friends were landing cushy jobs and progressing on the corporate ladder and getting nice take-home figures, I never stayed at one place for a long time. I was very quick to decide when something didn’t feel right and quick to leave jobs. I was criticized for not having loyalty; for not being able to stick through hardship.
I also saw that I was growing to be very different from the rest of my family members and the rest of my friends. Our notions of what a job meant, and what motivated us to stay in a job were very different.
And while “being bold and being different” was largely heralded as the motto of the 21st century… I realized, it wasn’t really something easy to cling on to.
Being bold and being different is only lauded for people that have achieved success (back at point 1 – stuff that’s recognized) as a result of being bold and different. Otherwise, you’ll kind of be left feeling alone, and it’s very easy for people to put you in a box of the other misfits who didn’t conform, and didn’t succeed.
Being different, I realized, also means you need to put in double the effort to explain yourself to the people you’re different from, and that is absolutely exhausting (especially as an introvert).
I think that has made me adopt a bit of a laissez faire attitude with life and communicating. If you get me, you do. If you don’t, that’s fine. I don’t really want to spend the extra effort trying to explain what I believe in or why I do what I do; because that ultimately wouldn’t really change our courses of life.
Which then makes it even more of a lonely sail out to unchartered waters.
Internally, I do struggle a lot. I think about the life I’m living and if it’s worth sticking to this way of life, or if my quality of life would be better if I were less “selfish” and conformed. Stuff also happened that made me question the need of working so hard and spending so much time at your job… life crumbles whether or not you make it to the top of the ladder. Shit happens. Why not take some time to smell the roses before it strikes?
Oh well. I’m still trying to figure it all out.
The older you grow, the less you know.