I was a shy kid. I was afraid of people.
They were loud. They wanted things from me that I might not be able to give. It felt like a test – and I always failed.
“You’re too quiet. You’re shy.”
These were BAD THINGS.
By definition being “too” anything is never good. Even “too nice” means you’re a doormat.
So as I went through school, the same refrain happened over and over. It didn’t go away – even in graduate school. A professor told me after class that I needed to participate in class for my grade. The professor was female, which I think was her projecting her insecurities on to me being in a male dominated field – business school.
Maybe these people were well-meaning. But I think this became the root of my depression. That didn’t come to light until my early 20s in the aforementioned graduate school. Which by the way, I had no real interest in, but I thought I’d get a “good job.” Ha, or so I thought.
The point is, I BELIEVED there was something wrong with me. Because that is what I was told. Over and over.
Don’t get me wrong, I was a good student – A’s and B’s. I was a great flute player – well that’s what most people told me. But I always felt a deep insecurity.
People have different personalities. Why do we try to fit them all in the same mold?
I get one thing – getting out of my comfort zone and being more extroverted usually turns out positively for me. It gets me “out of my head” and out of the depressive feelings. Though I do have a limit – I’m “wired” to be an introvert. But that wasn’t the encouragement I got. It was more like, “you have a deficiency, fix it!”
It only caused me to turn more inward. And it fueled my depression because well, I really felt like I was weird and that everyone knew it. I had trouble meeting new people. I felt awkward in new situations. This felt like a character flaw.
This is WRONG. I just expressed myself in different ways rather than the socially acceptable extrovert.
THIS is my fuel. It has taken me YEARS to not take on other people’s opinions. And frankly, I still do it. But I never understood this. Because I always followed rules. And I always assumed other people knew better.
No one tells you this. But it’s a BIG SECRET. Adults are still like children, just older ones. They don’t know what they’re doing any more than you do.
There is no instruction manual to life, so they are just winging it just like you. They are just better at faking it.
Point is, why should I worry about other people do when they have as little clue as I do? They put their pants legs on one at a time just like everyone else. Or trouser legs for some of you.
I got myself trapped in a bureaucratic job that I didn’t care about for years. Because I was scared. Because I didn’t know anyone else doing anything differently.
I always hated it. Hell I hated business school. I just did not find it interesting counting widgets. But I was told that being a business major was what I should do. So I did it.
I was taught that “work was work” and to “do what you like after work.”
Well, that never made ANY sense to me. I was too tired after work to do anything. And couldn’t get out of bed the next day to do it all over again. I was BORED out of my MIND.
But again, I didn’t know any different and I thought I was relegated to a life like that.
I had no one I knew to tell me any different. So if you’re reading this, let me tell you, you DON”T have to live that way!
It’s the 21st century, not 1950! You don’t have to be the “Man (or woman)in the Gray Flannel Suit”. I took the subway to work for years and saw the miserable expressions of people slogging like sheep to jobs they hated.
This is NOT for me. But I have to be careful who I say that to. As do you.
Your dreams are precious, only share them with those who are also following theirs.
And watch the words you speak to yourself. Someone told me that I was very hard on myself. That I say things to myself I would never say to someone else doing their best.
Saying things like “nothing ever works for me” is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you observe people who say things like that – they are right. Nothing ever does.
Life is trial and error. We are living in a brave new world that our parents never knew. With more options than existed than even 20 years ago when I was in business school! Yes, that makes me feel ancient.
But also inspired. Because I can write this blog. And I can publish it online, and I can do that virtually for FREE and reach an astounding number of people. That just wasn’t possible before.
I know I have been down and out and made what seemed like colossal mistakes – divorce, moving countries – but I’m still here. And every day is a new day and a new chance to rewrite that script.
This is my manifesto – DON’T settle! You don’t have to. REALLY.