Weird, wonderful, you: choosing change, choosing not to change

While I’m busy with more introspective posts and articles, I might as well delve into this as well…

In the newest issue of Breathe magazine (Issue 14), there is an article about being true to yourself and not changing yourself for others (“Drop the Façade” by Francesca Baker).

Among other things, it’s noted that one of the top five regrets of dying is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me”.

Of course, this is much easier said than done, especially if you feel like an outsider (or, even worse, get treated like one) by your own family, neighbourhood, culture, whatever, you get the picture. And there can be so many reasons for being treated like this. From having a different political or religious view to just not wearing the “right” clothes. But I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty of everything here as I feel I want to talk about my own path, and not give a “5 steps to be you” kind of post.

We all have our quirks (which does not immediately make you “so OCD” – don’t get me started), but there does seem to be some “quirks” or even characteristics and personality traits which seem to be looked upon as weird or even unwanted. A few of these (which I possess):

Being an introvert

I’m quiet for the most part – something that is frowned upon in school and in a world in which everyone shouts for attention. If you are an introvert, I suggest getting a hold of Quiet by Susan Cain and follow The Gentle Rebel podcast by Andy Mort.

Being a nerd

It’s just one of those things I naturally gravitated towards. I absolutely sucked at sports and athletics. (Dancing went much better.) I enjoy reading fantasy and science fiction (mostly) and crafting and writing and “nerdy” pastimes. I can gush about things like the language history of English and Afrikaans because I actually find it fascinating. I’m just… well, a nerd.

Not being healthy

Okay, not a character trait, but something that sure takes up a lot of space when I think of “me”. Not being healthy is seen by some to be a curse from God (*eye roll so large I fall off my chair*), are seen as weakness by some or are seen as an excuse for just being lazy by others. (*falls off chair again from rolling eyes*).

Basically, the stuff I suffer from isn’t going to just go away. They can get better; that is to say, I can have fewer symptoms, but I never quite know when the symptoms will start up again even though I take my meds religiously, go to a psychologist for CBT, etc. Sometimes I know when a flare is on its way, sometimes not. It can be a real rollercoaster (and not one of the nice ones).

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me”.

Now when it comes to having the courage to live a life true to oneself, it can start out in very simple ways. Maybe you don’t feel like you fit in with the “in-crowd” because you’re not supposed to be part of them in the first place. Don’t get caught in the trap of peer pressure to come to your senses years later and realise that you never actually did the things you wanted to do because you were too worried about what others would think.

Find the things that make your heart sing for joy. Be kind always. Have empathy. Think before you speak or type – even though others may not do the same.

We need so much more of this in the world. Fewer people harking on in hate, more people standing up for love.

Sorry to bring the Bible into this, but if you’re not religious or not Christian, bear with me…

So the Bible basically says ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ – now everyone is everyone else’s neighbour. Whether you like it or not – that’s not up to you to decide. And we’re all trying to do the best we can. It’s about time we start to try and see the goodness in other people instead of seeing prejudiced stereotypes.

That doesn’t mean that there is no right or wrong, but it does mean that everyone should come together to give each other a chance for their time in the sun. Everyone should have the chance to use the talents they have received for good. Everyone should stand up – in whatever way possible – and say ‘this is how I choose to live my life, this is how I will one day pass away without any regrets’.*

Find those people who will build you up, not tear you down for who you are. In those people, we will find those that will make this broken world a better world to be living in.

Choose to change today. Choose to be truly you.


* I know this is the simplistic way to look at it, but it is a place to start from.  Also, if I go into it in too much detail I’d be writing a book, not a post!

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.


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