Why it pays to not follow the crowd

All I ever wanted, for as long as I can remember, was to have a family. I wanted all that traditional stuff, to marry someone I loved beyond question, have a beautiful home and start a family.

I also want to live on a boat and sail around the world or live in Mongolia and experience a totally different way of life. I dreamed of writing every day and contributing to the world, in my own way.

However, my desire to have the one thing society told me I ‘should’ want seemed to endlessly clash with my drive to follow my dreams and experience the world.

I want to feel at home and at the same time be free – as far away from routine as possible.

Ok, I know when you have kids you need some sort of stability, and adventurers need to be funded. But why should I give up when my dreams seem to contradict each other? And who is it that said they can’t go together?

It seems to me, we allow certain rules to dictate the way we live our lives – whether we agree with them or not. We blindly follow, unquestioning, even taking comfort in the constraints they offer.

But it hasn’t always been like that.

As children, we dare to dream. We conjure up wondering plans where we can do and be everything and anything our imagination allows.

Would it be so bad to step off the well trodden path of adulthood just for a minute?

I’m not saying go against the flow for the sake of it.

But when you get that urge, the drive to do something different, the kind of feeling that just won’t go away, and the world is telling you you can’t – well, maybe just once take that “can’t” as a suggestion, and follow your heart. Go against the grain, forget about the obvious route, create your own path, and jump!

Just jump.

Because let’s face it, nothing great was ever achieved by following the rules and fitting in.

 

Searching for happiness

I’ve always been in search of happiness.

Whenever I could make a wish when I was a child, I would only ever wish for one thing – to be happy.

Sometimes i’d wish it for myself and other times id wish for my two big sisters, but always for the same thing – to be happy.

Despite my early focus on happiness I would find myself from time to time in such deep sadness, even as a young child I just couldn’t shake it off.

I joined gyms, learnt to meditated, breathed deeply, found yoga, did workshops. But sooner or later the sadness would catch me up again. Like a dark cloud lurking round the next corner.

A few months before my 30th birthday, I was desperate. There was nothing about my life I felt proud of, it felt like it was falling apart. I was torn between two countries with no career to speak of and nothing I was passionate about. I was lost.

All I knew was I wanted to  be happy.

I had so much faith in the fact that if I felt happy in myself, truly happy, then everything else would fit into place.

I started to look again. I looked into anything and everything. If it promised happiness I was in!

There were more self help books, I even read ‘Men are from Mars women are from Venus’, which in a 1980’s sexist kind of a way was surprisingly helpful. I signed up for online courses and went to a meditation retreat – with a 24 hour vow of silence.

Nothing really made that much of a dent – but by focusing on what I enjoyed things slowly started to shift.

The one thing that changed everything, was stopping. Stopping and truly accept myself, the inside and the out.

Standing naked in front of the mirror and saying ‘I love myself’ over and over again.

As soon as I mastered that everything else fitted into place. I stopped trying to please everyone else and in that moment I was happy.

 

Don’t ask the universe

I love the notion that the universe provides; all you have to do is ask in the correct way.

But just when you think you’ve got it nailed. And you know what you want, and at last you’ve figured out the correct way to ask – it’s right in this moment that life knocks your feet out from under you and slaps you round the face.

Then, as you climb to your feet and before you’ve even had the chance to brush yourself off and decide what to do next – slap! You get hit round the face just one more time.

‘They’ say that things come in threes, so I suppose I should steady myself for another hit. Or would that be a self fulfilling prophesy? Am I inviting the universe to bitch slap me one more time simply because I believe things come in threes?

And so here I am, on guard, wondering what part of my request the universe didn’t like.

But I don’t believe in fate and refuse to accept what I am served as final. I think we make whatever happens to us in life work – because really, what other option do we have?

Stopping? Giving up?

And so rather than preparing myself for the third hit I’m going to stay on the floor for a little while longer considering my options.

I no longer feel hard done by, I am grateful that these circumstances are forcing me to consider a different route.

What comes next is up to me.

 

Self love v’s self destruct

Now I’m all for self love. In fact I would go as far as to say I was an advocate of self love.

But, from time to time I have found myself wondering what am I supposed to do when all the Yoga and organic dark chocolate in the world just won’t cut it.

I had been feeling it for a while – extra pressure with work, deadlines looming and bills hovering somewhere in the background.

Then finally I’m eye to eye with the weekend and somewhere not too far away I hear the words ‘fuck it’.

Would it be so bad to lose control and go wild?

Drop the responsibility I’ve been holding so close to my chest, rip up the budget I’ve been carrying around and have just one more drink…

Who cares if I don’t appreciate the morning, miss 6am yoga and waste tomorrow on the sofa eating pizza. And so what if I don’t save any money this month?

If practicing self love means always making the healthy choice for your body, then I have failed tonight and tomorrows most likely a write off too.

But then again, what if self love doesn’t actually mean this at all?

To me, self love simply means knowing myself well enough to drop all the rules and having the confidence to trust my choices – even when they’re bad.

And of course, accepting that sometimes you’ve just gotta dance until 3am.

“How well do you know yourself?”

You made me cry, are you ok?

Now I am the first person to admit that I am a sensitive soul and crying is part of the deal.

One of the problems with being so sensitive is you are often drawn to the tougher, less sensitive people in life.

I suppose it goes back to cave man times –  find what you’re lacking in others and stick with it, that way you’ll be all right.

The problem is with modern day personalities the ones who come across the toughest, are often the ones with the most issues and just as sensitive on the inside, which doesn’t always make the best mix.

For years I’ve had this little rule when it comes to life: if you make me cry, it’s over, you’re out. But recently it has occurred to me that maybe walking away from every cross word, every disagreement is not always the best way to travel.

I so desperately don’t want it to bother me. I want it to wash over me and then move on, but it lingers inside the pit of my stomach, heart racing, hand shaking, tears rolling.

So what can I do?

Hold it in, kick off, shout back, hold a grudge or simply write the friendship off and walk away?

There is one other option: reframe.

This means taking what has happened and saying to myself, “You said those words. They are your words. They come from you. You chose to say those words – these are all facts outside of my control.

Then your words reached me and I choose how to hear them, how to see them, how to feel about them and where to put them.

And so I think about it again, there you are saying the words, I see them coming out of your mouth and I wonder how you feel while you say them.

I think about you saying the words, I can see you are upset, you are angry. Underneath anger lies another emotion, something inside you, something bubbling do you even know what it is?

I don’t feel sad for me any more, I feel sad for you.

Reframe again.

I think of five reasons why I love having you in my life; you’re kind, your thoughtful, you’re loyal, you’re fun, you’re adventures. ……. you must have been having a bad day!

Are you ok?