Society will always be too fragile to accept us for all that makes us beautiful.
― Robert M. Drake
I’m going to let you in on a little secret, that I suppose, isn’t really a secret at all, but it does seem to be kept rather on the down low.
Life is messy.
The very act of living is a wretched, beautiful affair.
If you’re reading this, and assumedly human, I think you can relate. From the moment of our first breath in this life, we entered into a place that is home to imperfection, and the doormat reads:
“Welcome. Please, take off your shoes, and embrace the mess.”
Unfortunately, the message etched into the not so welcoming mat of society as we grow older is that perfection can be reached and should be strived for, which makes it seemingly impossible to embrace the mess which is our existence.
The result of this is a world filled with unhappy people, looking to fit into these cookie cutter definitions of what everyone else says we should be.
This is something I struggled with as a teenager, as I’m sure many young adults do. High school is a time when the pressure to fit in is high. I remember everyone telling me that it’s different outside of high school.
“Things change. No one cares about that stuff outside of high school.”
So that was that. I left high school thinking that I would have this grand revelation in the outside world. I would find exactly who I was, and I wouldn’t need to care about what others thought of me anymore.
Now that I’ve lived in the outside world for some time, I can confidently say that things are not much different. The environment is different, but people are often the same, and everyone wants you to be just as they are.
Perhaps it’s easy for some people to fall into the expectations of life, but it never was for me.
I’ve never been content with hiding the best parts of me in order to make the people around me comfortable.
So for many years I’ve hovered at the edge of society’s doormat, stripping myself of the things that make me uniquely who I am, in hopes of reaching that state of perfection. It is just now that I’ve begun to redress myself in the armor that is my individuality. In its shelter, I am able to fight away the dullness of a life that is void of passion. Because, you see, when you are trying to fit all of someone else’s ideas into your mind, you leave no room for the things that set your soul on fire.
My intention in writing this article was never to throw words of motivation upon a page, or to offer some kind of step by step self-help article. Although I know that both of those things can be useful, I’ve found that it’s easy to read something, agree with it, and then move on with your life and forget about it altogether.
My intention has always been to connect with people, and in that connection to share things that can hopefully apply to the right here and now of life.
I am no expert in being comfortable in one’s own skin, for I am still learning how to wear my own, but I know that there are steps to be taken that can make our lives a little more colorful.
Look at the beautiful world in which you live. See the way the sun shines and feel the way it warms your skin. Smell the earth, and gaze upon the vastness of the night sky. When you intentionally take a look at the things around you, you’ll find your mind is filled more with wonder than with self-doubt.
Expand your mind.
Read anything and everything. As J.K Rowling said, “Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” A little knowledge and a lot of imagination will take you far.
Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space.
– Edward Abbey
Sometimes we become so burdened with the weight of responsibilities we bear, and the pace of the lives we live, that we forget to simply breathe. Not only does deep breathing release tension and bring clarity to the mind, but it also offers numerous healthy benefits to the body. So slow down, find stillness, and just breathe.
It’s easy to fall into a lethargic state of living. We begin to wonder about all the things we do not have and to take for granted the things that we do. Then we begin to wonder why we’re so unhappy. This is something that often has to be worked at, strived for, and practiced. I am always reminded of this practice by my sister’s eldest daughter, who is often asked to practice gratefulness when she is feeling discontent. In between sobs and cries of protest at the unfairness of life, my four-year-old niece is asked to name all of the good things that happened that day. Sometimes it takes a while for her to move past her unhappiness, but each time by the end of her list she has forgotten about the glass of chocolate milk she never had or the beach day that ended too early.
Just as my niece is asked to practice gratefulness, why should we not ask the same of ourselves? In the end, the size of our problems will become much smaller compared to the magnitude of our thankfulness.
Make Room for the Mess.
We are all made up of these mismatched pieces and patchwork patterns. Beneath a layer of beautifully crafted canvas skin, our hearts beat to a tune that is uniquely our own. So make room for the mess that is life and appreciate the imperfections in yourself and in others. Soon enough you’ll see just how colorful life can be when you stop limiting yourself to muted colors and paint the world in vibrancy.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
– Edward Abbey