We are all raised into a society. That means a group of people that goes about their life in a similar way. The core beliefs (or lack of beliefs) of the individuals that form a society are almost identical. For example, everyone abides by the same governing laws within a country, or the educational system that your child enters, the rules on dating etc.
From a young age the need to be accepted by the people around us keeps on growing. That is something we are taught to do. We need to smile, have good manners, dress in acceptable attire. If you disagree with anything and choose not to be passive, you would either express your opposing opinion and be classed as an outcast, or you express it in a subtle way only to be led back to the original rule that was set by society. By removing the outcast from a group and placing them into a like-minded one, turns them into a healthy member of the group.
You are the one or the other, the follower or the outcast.
The society that we see through our eyes, in my opinion, is layered. We have our immediate society which is our family, friends, spouse. Our secondary society is the group of people who are related to our work, whom we interact with on a daily basis. And the supplemental society is anyone who we interact with unsystematically (supermarket tellers, coffee shop baristas, neighbors) or passively (television, reading). There are some people that we have never seen or heard of who are part of the general society that all our micro-societies belong to, like people that live in other cities or neighborhoods than the one we live in.
But, what happens when we don’t feel like we belong? The answer is much simpler than you think.
Over the past few years I noticed that sometimes, my supplemental society felt more aligned with me than my immediate society. And I have been trying to understand how my brain is happier while socialising with an unknown woman on a bus stop, instead of a friend. There is absolutely no logic in that! Several travel books, blogs, podcasts and serendipitous interactions after, I discovered something that should have been obvious to me. Society is people and not the geographical location of people.
I was so focused on the level of dependency of my relationships and the geographical location of those people, that I completely missed the fact that they are in fact people, and that there are many more all over the planet! We can connect with like-minded people no matter how long or deeply we know them. We feel validated, even if this is coming from a stranger. It sounds so stupid to me now, but I honestly had not consciously made the connection until a few years ago.
I believe that the most important assets in your life are people, health and a purpose and it is very important to have the best quality of these life ingredients.
Deep, important thoughts are sometimes kept locked inside us forever. Important life changing decisions like: I want to migrate, should I be having a baby, I’m not ready to get married with my spouse who does want to, is changing my career in my 40s considered suicide and so many other HUGE thoughts that could prove to be pivotal in a person’s life. How does the idea of sharing your goals with your family/friends/spouse feel like? Intimidating or welcoming? Have you had the courage to get yourself around saying anything at all?
We fear rejection and it’s not something to be ashamed of, but something to be aware of. If having your dreams dismissed by your immediate society makes you feel rejected or small, then something is wrong. Suspecting that you would feel this way if you decide to open up, still means something is wrong. Because, if I want to quit my job and move to Alaska, my immediate society should tell me if they don’t agree, but that should be followed by ‘When are you moving? What are the steps to get there? Have you found a job there or are getting a remote job? Have you considered the constant cold weather? Have you spoken with others that have moved there to get some advice? How can I help?’ etc. So, how would a supportive family/friend/spouse make you feel when you open up? Like a weight has been lifted off of your chest.
There are times in our life when we share an unwelcome weird/new/extreme idea and think ‘I wish my people were more understanding’. I disagree with that. If you have communicated its importance to you in a clear manner and it has been made fun of or dismissed, then you are around the wrong people. How many times has someone from your immediate society second-guess your goals and dreams? We depend on our immediate society for love and that is the value of their opinion. It’s your decision to make. Do you pick your dreams or a disrespectful love? ❤
Most of all these dreams die with us. We never told our spouse that we wanted to finish our masters after the baby was born. And if we did, ‘it was just a joke don’t worry’. It crushes our spirit not being able to fulfill our purpose. Living our days as someone else, in someone else’s heavy, tired body. We know that even if we had tried, we might have failed. But not even trying? That is like starving your body because either way, eventually, it will die.
- Accepting or submitting without resistance or objection.
- Of an inactive or submissive role in a relationship.
- Chemically unreactive except under special or extreme conditions; inert.
On the other hand, we could go on living a secret life in our mind. A parallel universe of constant dreaming and planning what we will never implement. A world that we will never share out of fear that we will be rejected by the people that love us. But this feeling of bottling up is not a happy one. We settle with the idea of never changing the situation. How does not sharing our dreams with the people that we consider the cornerstone of our life feel? These are the people we depend on. The people that accept us the way that we are. The people we go to when we are in trouble and to share the happiest moments of our life with.
When we see our dream manifested by another person we start to feel numb, our insides burn out of resentment because, it could have been you. Another more motivated you, that goes after their dreams by replacing something that is currently expendable in their life with something that gives us a reason to smile everyday. All that feeling sorry for our self does, is add tinder to that feeling until one day it turns into fire and causes an explosion. Being proactive and starting to express our desires even on a small scale, will make the fire manageable and may even prevent it altogether. Even if our goal is far at the horizon, we are the protagonist. We are seeing and living our story in the first-person from now on, instead of sitting passively in the audience, with no power to change the direction of our own story.
We might have thought of taking steps into planning our dream in ‘secret’. We research the best country as far as immigration laws go, if we consider migrating. We read all about pregnancy and raising children and surround ourselves by mothers, so that we can decide if we want to have a baby. Or we might be looking into ways that we can start working on our masters, while having a baby, etc. How does walking on eggshells around your people feel (or would feel)? What happens when we announce not only what we want, but also the fact that we have been on this for so long in secret out of fear of being rejected?
I have been on both sides of the coin, but I have made great progress in warning my immediate society of future plans. It doesn’t have to be detailed and you don’t even have to implement it. Just get it out there. I told my mother, and whoever else is in my immediate society, a year ago that in a few years I will be leaving the country. Most of them where open and helpful with insightful questions. But it wasn’t always rosy like this.
I remember telling people that I really wanted to go to east Africa. It was just a casual talk to them, but to me the simple act of talking about it was painful. It felt like it was impossible to achieve. It all began in my head. Reading about the area, googling photos of the areas and researching volunteering organisations that I could use as a medium to get there. It was a dream of mine. For 6 years this went on! However, it was all so casual on the outside. My people thought I was joking and would usually change the subject or make a joke about it.
One day while I was at the early stages of planning a short trip to Italy with a friend of mine, I found myself in a position to take an opportunity to climb Kilimanjaro and stay for two weeks in Tanzania after 7 or so months from that moment in time. I remember laughing about the possibility. But then I started doing the math as far as budget goes and it suddenly became real when I realised that I could do it. Overnight I had committed to join that expedition without consulting anyone but my brother. Needless to say that everyone thought that I was joking when I told them about it. Some didn’t think that I would follow through.
My mother was the hardest one to tell to. I knew she would go all crazy (in all the bad ways anyone can get crazy!) and I was prepared to even be told to leave the house. She is the kind of person that still expects my life to one day revolve around a job, debt and a family. The idea of something different, foreign or unknown always scared her. And here’s me telling her that I want to go to Africa alone. I remember her saying ‘Why can’t you go to France? Or Belgium? Why do you have to be so difficult and weird? Who goes to Africa?’.
After the initial (and normal if I may say so) shock, she realised that I was serious and that the deposit had been paid for. She then started crying and I could not get a word out of her. I remember thinking okay here comes the ‘you are going to die, it’s dangerous, you’re a girl’ etc kind of talk. But my mum was crying for a different reason.
She told me that she was crying because I was chasing my dreams and that she is proud of me for having the courage to do so. That she wished that she did that during her life and that it was too late for her. She told me what her dreams were when she was younger and the reasons, or to my surprise the people, that stopped her from going after them. She said that I am brave and stubborn and that she is happy that I am! I was speechless! This was unreal to me! I could not believe that my mother was so supportive of something that I knew she did not agree with me doing.
It was so refreshing, because in my mind when I played out the scene of what will happen when I told her, it always included a huge argument about how an unmarried woman should not be going to far away places that speak unknown languages. Every single time for some reason it escalated in her telling me that she wanted me to leave. But this didn’t happen.
This only added to my happiness. Straight away I started telling her about my plans. The whens and wheres. What excited me the most about the trip and what scared me. The people I was going with and how had I started preparing. I don’t even remember how long the conversation went on! I went into my room, sat down and thought ‘Okay. So all that is left to do today is go on feeling excited!!!’
Going to Africa was a dream that did come true and I will be definitely going again. But at the end of the day, in the case of my mother, I made a choice and left my mother to make her own. My dream was important and my mother is important, but having the one does not mean I need to give up the other. Because it was her decision if me doing my thing was a reason for her to start a conflict. I was open and nice about it and she responded in a similar way which is not something she generally does and I was rewarded by getting both my dream and her.
Being accepted is important to us humans, but sometimes acceptance is far from where we are located physically or mentally. Sometimes, we think of our people as the only people in the world that love us, but in reality we just are not giving anyone else a chance. We narrow down our spectrum. If our relationships are open and supportive then all we can do is maintain them! In the case that we can’t express ourselves without feeling like the odd one out, or that we end up bottling our thoughts and feelings up, that is the sign that we need to widen our field of vision.
Be brave and Go Explore 😘