I know that it is important at times to “fit in” or to “blend with the crowd,” but seriously, being normal is not my strong suit. I have lived all my life being outside of whatever box whomever had the box concept wanted slot me into. It took me until I was in grade one to actually realize that someone thought there was a box! It was a horrible struggle to try to just be me while someone in authority was trying to make me someone I was not. My grade one teacher was extremely mean. It was not uncommon in those days for a child to be hit in the head with a yard stick in class. She would also refuse bathroom breaks for kids…until they lost control and peed their pants, and then would humiliate them in front of everyone. Fortunately for me I had excellent bladder control. But seeing this made me pledge to myself that if this was “normal” I would have nothing of it.
It took years for me to realize that “normal” did not necessarily mean being physically or psychologically abusive. It also meant a plethora of social expectations and demands. In my community if by 21 you were not married with a kid on the way you were considered “odd.” That was where my first marriage was inserted into my life in a way that made me “blend in” but also was a way of starting me on my journey of discovery that marriage is not necessarily the ideal type of situation for everyone. I knew I was not ready to be married. But people were expecting it of me because my girlfriend and I were living together. So we did the marriage and two years later did the divorce. My first attempt at being “normal” had failed miserably.
I realized half way through my second marriage that “normal” was really quite boring. I prefered the adventurous route. And although on the marriage front I was living a “normal” life, there were many ways on the mystical front that I was never “normal”. I was a rule breaker and an explorer and there was no way in hell that I could try to be anything less than that. My blood would boil whenever someone would suggest that I “settle down a bit” when it came to pretty much anything. I finally had to just break free of all social convention and go on my way with my own rules and regulations in tow. This meant completely blowing up my world,which was painful. But it was worth it. Yes, people had to adjust to the fact that I was blowing it up. But that did not mean that the love was not there. It just meant that it had to make room for me to be ME.
Every once in awhile I still encounter people who, not really knowing me…yet, will say things that indicate that they have a certain expectation of me. They are shocked to discover that I am under no obligation to comply to those expectations. Once that sinks in, they usually want me to teach them how I do that…and sometimes that will work. I just take it as an inspiration for them to be their authentic selves. But once one gets that authenticity bug, there is no turning back.
Once one finds their personal authenticity, one will be naturally attracted to others who also have that. This is called “finding your tribe.” It is a bit of a process because you have to spend some time weeding out those relationships that are simply patterns of expectations and demands placed upon you. This can be painful, but it is worth the emotional investment. As those old patterns of relationships are weeded out, it makes room for those who are more personally authentic to enter into your circle. When that happens, you begin to naturally form your tribe. Life becomes a celebration of the “not normal-ness” of each member of that tribe. People become supportive and embracing of the various colors and shades of personal authenticity. It is a beautiful thing to witness, and an even more beautiful thing to experience personally. I highly recommend it.
If you, like myself, find that the entire concept of normalicy is something that makes you feel caged or bores you to tears, rest assured, your tribe is out there. You just have to find who you truly are inside in order to have that resonate with whomever else is out there and is a match. This does not necessarily mean romantic partners, although that can be a part of the equation. But your tribe is much more than just that. Your tribe is your strength and your support, and you are also those things for each and every member of your chosen tribe. And yes, there may be extended periods of time where you just don’t “fit in” as you are on your journey of discovery. That is okay. You don’t have to fit in. You don’t have to be anything you don’t want to be. Letting go of those expectations that others have can liberate you to truly be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.
So what are the Shamanic teachings in this? Here you go:
- Fitting in and knowing who you are can be vastly different things.
- Normal is not always humane.
- Failure to be normal is definitely an option.
- There is a difference between obligations and responsibilities. Obligations are burdens that need not be carried by you. Responsibility is the ability to respond to a situation with whatever is necessary.
- When anyone tries to put you in a box, destroy that box.
- Personal authenticity leaves no room for sentiment or nostalgia, both of which are box-traps that limit you to either what always was or what would have/should have/could have been. Your life is worth more than any of that.
- There is actually a tribe for everyone. Some folks take longer than others to find theirs. Some believe they need no tribe. No judgements.
- Once you find your tribe, respond to what your tribe members require. It does not have to be much. Even just going for coffee with them once in awhile can be all that is needed. Sharing yourself with them is what counts. And appreciating what of themselves they share with you is awesome.
- Liza Manelli once said, “Be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second rate version of anyone else.” That is an important thing to learn.