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Disclaimer: I’m not a professional mind person. These are a few things I’ve realised lately or tell myself from time to time.
I have learned most of the useful things I know from crazy people. Crazy in quotes. These are people who were ridiculed for being who they were at some point, only to find –when they went out into the world- that someone needed their crazy. And that the label ‘crazy’ only applied when they were in their previous environment. In the new environment, they were embraced and learned to cultivate their crazy into a gift that keeps on giving. These people could be, to you – your favourite aunty, singer, writer, CEO, pet that could not be tamed. The empathy they bring into your life when they do what they do, when that song hits the right chord –for example- could be what keeps you going when times are tough and what helps you celebrate good times. All because this stranger gets you.
Imagine if those people –all of them- never existed or never tried to come out of their shell. Imagine that you are one of those people to someone out there. This is the importance of trying.
If there is something you feel compelled right from deep down in your core to do, do it. Yes, there’s some self-actualisation that goes on there when you are doing it, this unparalleled satisfaction. But it seems there is more to it than that. What you manage to salvage from your talents may be the thing that saves someone else’s life or shows them that there is more to life than survival. We are examples to each other – in success, in mediocrity, in distress – what you are doing means something to someone else’s existence. If you are withholding a gift or talent the world or even just one individual out there needs, run away from it all you can, it will still haunt you.
There may be a great deal to be learned from taking the great leap forward into becoming the best you that ever was –as cliché as that sounds (clichés are clichés for a reason), for example:
- You can always invent your own normal.
People have different thresholds of pain, pleasure, respect, etc. And that’s what makes them interesting. That’s what forges friendships between certain people, attracts narcissists to certain people, gets certain people pregnant. Normal is not set in stone. There are things that people insist are normal which you don’t see a lot of when you look around. Either that or normal clearly isn’t working. Try to think of a few. So whose version of impossible-normal are you trying to fit yourself into? As long as your normal doesn’t kill or grieve someone else, you really are free to rebuild your world as you see fit. And if your normal grieves someone, take stock of if their grief is actually coming from their own insecurities. Do they have a valid point? Is it both? If it’s both, maybe take the valid point and keep it moving. Also, you will offend people along the way. But with time, you realise when to say you’re sorry and when to drop the mic and walk away or when to be silent. Don’t be ashamed of the trial and error along the way. Think about the rewards and let them push you forward –because you can’t go back to the way you were once you’ve even lost some people because of changes you made. Those losses have to count for something, so you have to keep going.
I for one would like to die having seen what my best life looked like – ‘normal’ or not.
- You will not be telling your kids one day that they should stick with the safe path and forget about pursuing their own dreams.
A parent who lived their best life becomes the ultimate example to their child. A parent who never gave themselves a chance and regrets that *is in danger of* becoming the opposite of what the child wants to be when they grow up. Children are smart. They see more than we give them credit for. Our insecurities, regrets, anger and resentment manifest themselves to children in all kinds of ways and lessons. And if you are not being true to yourself, it becomes a whole entire mood in the depths of your soul then sprouts into a version of you that you’ll be shocked to discover. You’ll be the one scoffing at your colleague who is pursuing that risky side gig and secretly wishing that they fail so as to prove what you’ve always known: that people should just sit down and stay in their lanes. You will do this with people you love, as well: your children, your siblings, your best friend – because you don’t want anyone making you feel like you should have tried or tried harder. If you’re truly happy with yourself, you won’t be bothered by other people’s endeavours. But if you never tried, you’ll find yourself telling your kid that they’ll fail and make a fool of themselves. (Whether the kid is actually good at what they are trying to do is beside the point and nobody’s business if they are willing to support themselves through their struggles and will bear the consequences of their own actions. At least they’re trying at something (hopefully legal).)
- You are setting yourself up for life to pleasantly surprise you.
Nothing can be learned from doing nothing when you wanted to try something. But when you do act, your actions can lead to unexpected discoveries and opportunities. Life seems to open up to you and present you with gifts and amazing people you didn’t even ask for – and also gets more interesting with time as you rediscover your curiosities.
“It’s the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.” – Westlife, The Rose
- You weed out people who keep you limited.
There are people in your life, you know you should have gotten rid of ages ago. Making changes to how you live your life organically takes these people away from your sphere of influence. Your activities change, so does your interest in doing the things you used to do with them. Also, you weed out the versions of you that used to keep you limited. There will be things you just cannot do anymore –like putting off achieving the goals of a particular project, self-destructive behaviour such as being messy where you could have resolved a dispute amicably and being tardy. At this point, you would be working from a mentality of someone who is sick and tired of being discontented. And you know what happens once you reach that point.
- You ensure that you’re taken care of in hard times.
How many of us found themselves in the middle of a lockdown wishing we had pursued that passion project that could be making us money by now? That’s the thing with making sure you pursue what your self said you should be pursuing when they said you should be pursuing it. It’s not just so you can sleep well at night. With time, it actually gives back to you and becomes the thing that keeps you when you need help. Because you care that much more, you tend to do well. Even just in terms of keeping your reputation: when you have a career you love, you make sure you do right by it and so it builds value in your name –so that whenever you need a new opportunity, your reputation goes before you and secures you one. What happened there is you tried harder and longer than you would have for a job you don’t really care about, and that comes with certain rewards.
But this is not just about your life’s work. This is also about the standard you allow your life to operate at and how that standard sets you up to accept good or bad treatment from people and come out at the top or bottom when certain circumstances hit, or to be the one who is prone to thrive in most situations and has discernment enough to repel bad treatment. You may think you’re fine with your current expectations but have they paid off? Have they been good for you?
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