A great challenge we are all up against is to be ourselves. Many people don’t yet know who that is and sadly, may never truly reach their full potential in this lifetime.
To be you takes incredible courage for two reasons.
It means there is a good chance you won’t fit in with the ‘norm’ of society, the conditioned majority (at least until we are all being ourselves).
It also means that you will have to face yourself and your deepest fears to discover who you truly are. To do this takes undoing the conditioning of your past and of those who have influenced you, a combination of family, peers and society in general.
Recently I received an email pointing out that one of my articles had grammatical errors and a warning that there are some pedantic critics out there. It was sent with kind, and perhaps nurturing intentions, so from that perspective, I do appreciate the sentiment.
As a person already in the public arena though, I have come to learn that there will always be critics. That is the beauty of human life. We will never all agree and are entitled to individual opinions.
But do these things, like perfect grammatical correctness, really matter? I cannot imagine reaching the end of my life and my dying thought being “I wish I had written that article differently”.
I do enjoy improving as a writer. I enjoy improving in any field. But in my heart I am happy, by expressing myself honestly. That is all I ask of myself, that and to enjoy the process of growth that accompanies it. The grammar police may not agree with my style, but they don’t need to.
There are tools to help us all in whatever our endeavour and many are worthwhile tools. Learning is a magnificent thing. We can also learn a lot from each other, definitely.
But my heart does feel for those who would write, draw, speak, paint, or anything in life, with the concern of how their creative expression will be received. What a weighty hindrance to bear.
All of this left me thinking, as I wandered these glorious hills and paddocks, about how many people accept conformity as normal. It is a fearful society we have created as a species, when the majority find it easier to be guided by conformity, even if it brings them no true happiness.
Where is the space for individual expression in such a society? It takes a huge amount of courage to honour your own heart. I don’t deny that and for many, finding the strength to do this seems too overwhelming and much more difficult than plodding along with the majority.
My own life is one of simplicity, creativity, honesty and courage. It is also thankfully one of true happiness these days. But it didn’t come easily. Rewards don’t come without effort.
When you hear a beat that works in time for you though, knowing that it doesn’t match the beat of the majority, you will always be out of rhythm with yourself if you do not learn to honour that beat.
Most people just haven’t found their own beat yet. So they walk to the beat of the collective even if true happiness is not found by doing so, particularly when the collective is coming from a place that has lost its heart and authenticity.
What an incredibly beautiful symphony it would be if we all truly walked to our own beat. It would be a joyous and perfect tune, all of us happily honouring who we are, working together to create an uplifting, harmonious symphony.
It would be a magnificent improvement on the current collective beat which has already lost its soul and is sadly, the beat that many walk to in their numbed, resigned state. It is also a beat that does not work together.
And that is where courage comes in, walking to your own beat. What others think of you is nothing compared to what you think of yourself.
It is honouring that deep longing, to realise your true self, that is the biggest challenge you can ever face, as well as being the greatest gift you can ever give to yourself and to the world.
When you do this, you then naturally want to contribute to a better world, so everyone benefits from your efforts.
Breaking out of others’ expectations of you could leave you hearing a barrage of criticism for years on end. Unfortunately, I say this from experience.
But in the end, that criticism is not about you. It belongs to the person or people delivering it. Let it slide and if you’re strong enough, use it as a tool to grow in compassion for the other person’s own suffering.
When you start to create your own life, it triggers fear in others, their own fears. You cannot control that. But you can control how you react to these opinions and how much you let them affect you.
It takes enormous courage to stay focused and true to your own heart. But it is definitely worth it.
No one has lived the same life as you. We all walk in different shoes with different life experiences. No one, not one person, has ever perceived the world through your eyes.
So how on earth can someone else’s truth be your truth? It cannot be. You must find your own sense of self; the truth of what drives you, of what makes YOU happy.
The opinions of others are based on their own life experiences and while some may prove relevant and helpful to your life, many won’t.
So take on what you resonate with and filter out the rest. It is the only way. Otherwise you end up becoming what someone else wants of you, rather than what you want.
Buddha said, ‘Your life’s work is to find your life’s work’ and he wasn’t wrong. It can take a long time to work out what that is.
People have often said to me how lucky I am to know what I want to do, that being writing, song writing, and teaching. But they have no idea what I went through, during the very long search to find out, to hear my heart’s own true beat. And I don’t need for them to know everything (despite some great stories).
All I need to share is that it takes courage to break free of your past. And that the peace and self respect that follows is worth every ounce of effort. It is incredibly rewarding and joyous. Thankfully, I say this from experience too.
The restraints of conformity are never going to be a healthy companion for a happy life.
There is a dream within you, slowly beating away to its own rhythm. It wants to be heard. But it cannot be so if you don’t slow down your mind and your life enough, to hear it.
But when you do, you will always know it is there.
Your happiness lies in learning to walk to that beat.
Be yourself. Happiness is your reward.
The road may be challenging and long, but how will you ever get there if you don’t start the journey?
Be yourself. It is who you are here to be.