A little writer with a long way to go

Posts tagged ‘be yourself’

You aren’t crazy if you hear voices

There’s a stigma behind having voices in your head. At best, people will joke about it. “Everyone hears voices,” they’ll say. They might even tell you that it’s okay to listen to them. Might even tell you that it’s okay to talk to them. But then they’ll joke “But if they talk back, that’s when you should worry.”

They don’t realize that the voices in your head are actually a part of you. Probably a suppressed part.

Everyone likes to think that the voices in your head are dangerous. And maybe sometimes they can be a little reckless if you aren’t doing much with your life. Maybe they want to shake things up for you because they’ve realized that you’ve settled for a life you didn’t want. Are you at a desk job when you’d rather be out walking among the trees or working with animals? Are you working with kids when you’d rather be painting or writing? Are you in a place that you always want a vacation from?

Maybe your voices know you better than you know yourself. Maybe your voices are the part of you that was told to stop being so excited over “silly things” or told to be realistic and pick a job that would actually make you money instead of going after what you were actually passionate about. Maybe your voices just want a conversation but because so many people think voices make you crazy.

But what is crazy other than a lazy way of saying that you are too different to be taken seriously. Really? You’re going to let them tell you that. Don’t sell yourself short.

Next time you hear that voice in your head, or maybe even just a vague awareness of something else going on under the surface, tune into it. Listen to it for a minute. Give it a chance to actually voice its thoughts.

“What are you doing with your life?” It might ask. “Why are you even here?”

Maybe it isn’t being harsh. Maybe it realizes your actual potential and knows that you aren’t even giving yourself a chance. Maybe it wants to remind you of what you used to want to be.

Talk to yourself. It doesn’t have to be outloud. Your voice is in your head as well. All these voices are parts of you. Listen to them, make friends with them, see how to change up your life so that you are settling for something or just waiting for retirement for your life to start.

Embrace the crazy if that’s what it is for you. Crazy isn’t an insult. Crazy is knowing that you deserve better than commonplace and going after what you actually want in life. Find what’s holding you back, cut ties with it, and just listen to your own voice for once. Don’t let them silence you anymore.

Open Letter to Everyone

This year has been hell. Figuring out a separation that I never wanted because I still loved them. And a flood, literal and figurative, as my apartment flooded taking away everything that no longer mattered. Mental strain meant depression and anxiety. My whole world felt like it was crashing around me.

And it kinda was.

But I had people, friends, who came to my aid. Who held me up when they had no clue what was going on. I have been a hurricane and they were caught in the eye. And yet they stayed, just talking to me and being there for me. I needed them and they were there.

These friends. They are different than anything I have known.
I don’t expect you to understand what they are or how they live. You don’t need to understand it. It isn’t for you to experience. But we all respect each other’s experiences. We let them have their own experience in this life. We don’t try to change each other.

I love these people closest to me because they have become a part of my own experience here. But not only that, they have become my happiest memories.

I’ve been searching for that since I left home. And finally I found it. I wanted to bring home some of that happiness to share with my original family only to see that they would not welcome it.

Too different, they said.
Sinful, they called it.
Sometimes I wonder if sinful replaced happy. Can no one be happy anymore without being sinful? Is happiness a sin?

Because if it is, I don’t want to be on your side. I don’t want to be alive if it means that I will never be happy. So instead, I’ll stay on my side. I will shine my own light and let others celebrate with me. Because in this light, I can be my purest form. I can be most happy with others who celebrate me as I am.

Maybe I am too different. But here, that isn’t a bad thing. And for that reason, I am staying here.

What’s really in a name?

Over the years, I tried out different names for myself. I started out of course with the name my parents gave me. At one point I changed up the spelling of it for fun. And now I go by Ryn. But names are more than just fun for me, they carry a lot of weight.

To me, a name is the biggest representation of yourself. It’s how you introduce yourself to others and it’s how they reference you or call for you. Your name is pretty much one of the most important parts about you.

When people get married, it’s common for them to share a name. This, to me, is a promise. It’s a shared bond. It’s literally saying, this name is now a part of both of us. Whether you take on the name of your partner, they take on yours, you hyphenated, or you take on a new name, you’re sharing a major part of your identity with that person now. And it’s simply beautiful to me

You may think then, that I’m against those couples who don’t share their names. Actually no. Not at all. Some people want their identity to stay the same and their bond isn’t shaken by that. These people stay who they are despite being in a relationship and that’s beautiful as well.

These sorts of name changes are common but no one really gives a thought about them. Until you want to change your name as an individual.

Most people never have the urge to change names or never even think about names at all. But I think about names all the time. As a writer, I’d say the bulk of my time writing is figuring out names. How do I want to represent this character? What connotation does this name have? What does this name mean to me? How does this name resonate in the story?

To want to change one’s name is extremely significant to me. It’s not abandonment of your past. Quite the contrary. Changing one’s name is starting over with yourself. It’s a promise to yourself to start over. Give yourself a clean place to start from. Whether you change around a few letters, adopt a nickname, or completely change it, you’re giving yourself the freedom to recreate yourself.

Clean slate or a complete awakening or rebirth. You are making a new way for yourself.

If anyone ever tells me that they are changing their name, this is what it means to me and I will treat it with the utmost importance. I will immediately start calling them by this new name – unless they ask me to hold off or refrain for whatever reasons. They will become a new person to me and the old left behind.

The new person will have to clean up any mess left behind by the old one, but under a new name there will be new light shed on those old ways. A new name is a promise to yourself to do better than before.

So if you ever change your name, or even want to try it out for a short while, do it in a way that attempts to be better than before. Forgive more people, clean up old messes, tie up loose ends. But more than anything, under this new name, be more honest with yourself and above all, love and respect yourself more.

I definitely will. Your new name is a promise to yourself and to anyone you share it with. Be it marriage or through introduction, you have something new. Wear it with pride and honor.

And to anyone who refuses to notice that this is what you are changing your name for, I hope they aren’t around for very much longer. I know what it’s like to have people refuse to see the new you. Give them time. They might still see it as abandonment. I don’t know. Maybe share this post with them. Maybe I can enlighten them a bit. And if you are someone who hasn’t adapted to someone else’s name change, consider everything I’ve said here. Maybe it’ll change your mind about things. Don’t beat yourself up about it, just try your best to understand their reasons and do better from now on.

Good luck and best wishes to all who read this. Names are important. What are you making of yours?

The Stove Might be Hot

I grew up ascribing to a religion that I didn’t fully understand. At this point, it hardly matters which religion because I think this happens to all of us. We are taught whatever religion or belief system that our parents believe and by the end, I’ll wrap up why I think that is both a good and bad idea.

So, my parents, just like yours, taught me what they believed to be true. I participated in holidays and traditions important to those beliefs, read from a book of those teachings, and followed in the family norms of the believers. I grew up thinking that this was how it was supposed to be and was happy enough to follow this.

But somewhere around middle school, I learned that our belief system wasn’t all that there was out there. Other people believed and acted differently. Throughout high school I would be taught that this was wrong and bad and I needed to save these people from the bad teachings. It seemed good enough in theory but it felt wrong in practice.

Underlying every thought I expressed was a sick feeling in my gut that this wasn’t good. I was made to believe that I was worried so much about their downfall but it wasn’t that. Instead, it was my gut saying that I had no authority to judge what they were taught, what they believed, and what they valued in life.

So I went without religion for quite some time. Maybe if everyone just stopped believing in these religious teachings, we can find harmony in the world. We’ll stop having wars over which god is true or which culture is right. Maybe a world without religion is a good thing. So I set about encouraging people to abandon religion completely. But this was met with the same sickly feeling as trying to convince them to come into my religion. And in a way, I realized I was still trying to get them to believe what I believed, even though I thought I was freeing them from religion altogether. Same thing.

I was confused. What was I doing wrong? With religion, I felt I had to change everyone to my way of thinking. Without religion, I thought I had to free everyone from a forced belief system – and over to my new way of thinking. Where was the problem then.

Now might be a good time to mention that I have spent an unhealthy amount of time contemplating this dilemma when the answer is so freakishly simple.

Think about it this way: when you first enter the world, you are a blank slate. You know nothing. You have two ways of learning things. You can learn from others: what they say, how they act. But you also can go out there and try it all for yourself. You can learn from your mom, “Don’t touch the stove, it’s hot” or you can touch it and discover it for yourself. Either one is a valid way of learning the same message: the stove is hot. You reach the same conclusion.

One though, comes with the pain on your hand, the other one comes with trusting who is telling you the information. In my eyes, these are both a slight cost. Early on in your life, you’re probably more apt to do both. Your mom tells you the stove is hot, you then touch it to find out. This works to do a few things at once. You learn to validate the information of others by testing the theory yourself. The more often you validate the things your mom says, the easier it is to just take her word for it that she does indeed know what she is talking about.

Bringing this parallel to religion, the people who tell you things, have often gone through their own chain of validation. They have learned to trust certain people and have taken what they say as true, or they have tested theories directly. Anyone can do this. So when your parents or people tell you “I know what I’m talking about, I’ve been through this before,” basically, they are saying, “I know what it is to take someone’s word for it and I am extending you the option of taking my word for it so you don’t have to hurt your own hand.”

It’s all in good intentions really. Looking back on my life, I understand this now. My parents were just trying to save my hands. Whether they were going to burn on the stove or in some version of hell, they wanted to protect me. For that, I cannot fault them.

My life has been pretty crazy so far. I’ve stopped trusting people so much and had to burn my hands a few times too many because I really don’t know who to trust or what to believe. I’ve read up on a lot of religions and belief systems and I can’t find one that I fit into. I like messages from each. I like the spirits in every living thing from pagan type beliefs, I like the self empowerment from new age teachings. I love the idea of sacrificing oneself to save others that a lot of the major religions believe. The ideas of reincarnation and nirvana seem to make a lot of sense to me and karma seems pretty plausible. I believe that we aren’t the only ones out there but I think we’ve fallen out of harmony with the universe and the source love. I meditate often to get right with myself because at the end of the day, I am all that I can guarantee to myself. I may use different terms for things than you and others but we all do in the end.

I could ask five people to pick up paper and they could all pick up a different kind of paper. One has a notebook, another a legal pad, someone else picks up card stock, another makes their own paper, and the other has index cards. All technically still paper and yet all represented in different ways. Of course, we’re going to disagree on bigger things than paper. Especially when none of us were there at the beginning of the universe and technology hasn’t created a time machine to go back and check to see if their calculations are in fact the truth. Some ideas sound more plausible than others but does it actually matter?

In the end, the only thing that’s going to matter to us is what we think is important. Whether we think religion is important to us or not is something we have to decide individually for ourselves. In the end, we each have our own lives to lead and no one can change our minds unless we want them changed. Maybe I wanted to walk away from religion five years ago to see what else I could find. Maybe I really was searching for the truth.

Did I find it? I think so. What is it? That’s going to be a different answer often. Today, I’d say my truth is of living in harmony with the earth, doing my best to leave the smallest carbon footprint that I possibly can. Tomorrow, I may find more truth in being a part of a community where we can all be interdependent and connected to each other. And still I might say my root truth or at least the truth of me that pertains to everyone else on the planet, is to let everyone fin find their own truth. If there is anything that I think might be strong enough to want others to learn, it’s respecting everyone’s right to believe as they feel is true.

Sure, in parenting, this might be harder to do. You still need to protect those little hands from the stove. I think it still comes back to the choice. Tell them the stove is hot and let them decide whether they want to believe you or not. If they need to test it for themselves in order to more trust you, then go ahead and let them. You’ve done what you could. But if you fight so hard with them to keep them from ever touching the stove for themselves, you may have saved those little hands but now they might always doubt whether what you say actually has a basis in truth or if now they think you were lying because you wouldn’t let them verify it.

I respect the religions who teach their children the values that they believe and then give them the space to go out into the world and try other things before committing themselves to the religion or whatever.

Whatever you do though, you know how you came to believe what you believe now. Remember your journey, remember your doubts. And then, extend everyone else the freedom to discover what they need to in the ways that they need to hear it. If the stove really is hot, you can bet they’ll learn to stop touching it eventually. But if you discover yourself to be protecting them from a cold stove, that’s not very fair. Remember that the stove does cool off. We can all learn this along side knowing when the stove is hot.

Silence No More

For most of my life, I’ve been known as outgoing. Always surrounded by friends or family and almost always talking. But under the surface, I’ve been hiding major parts of me because they didn’t fit with what I was seeing around me. Most of middle school I spent writing in class because it was an escape. I could be anyone on the page and I could create an environment of people in there that loved and supported me despite my oddities. My characters always greeted me with open arms of love and acceptance. It didn’t matter that I had created them and they weren’t in the “real world” as so many people reminded me. These characters were very real to me and their support got me through many difficult times.

I am here today though because I have found people outside of my own head that love and support me. It has taken quite some time to voice what I’ve been hiding and it was terrifying to say it out loud. But I have been greeted with love that I could never have imagined. To be so completely free around these people has been the most amazing feeling in the world.

But it wasn’t around everyone that I could feel this way. Around some people, I was still afraid that they would disapprove or ridicule me so I stayed quiet. I bit my tongue as much as I could. But little by little, I started speaking up a bit more. Little by little, I grew more brave. I found the courage to talk to more people. I found love in some cases and unfortunately others decided they needed to leave. It’s been a hard journey so far and it won’t be over anytime soon.

I present myself to you today as myself. I do not fit into the socially constructed gender roles. I am not a lady, proper and clean with intentions of starting a family because my birth certificate says female. I am not a tomboy wishing to play sports or be active and full of testosterone. I am not confused and I do not need to make a decision of one or the other to fit the society gender binary. Some days I wake up and wear hand me down boys clothing in order to hide a frame that is built small and feminine. Other days I wake up and put on a dress that fits that form. But my favorite days are when I wake up and pull on whatever feels comfortable without worrying how people will perceive me.

Because of this in myself, I disregard gender ideas and normal perceptions when looking at everyone else. Instead of boys and girls, I see kids playing on swing sets and running around. At college, I don’t understand the check boxes that sort people into male and female. I see everyone as a person with completely unique ways that will differ from every other person on the planet because no one else is like them. I strive to always see people like this because it allows me the most open and accepting place to start getting to know a new person from.

I completely love who I am when I’m being free and honest with myself. I love being able to share that with other people. Hiding myself has never been in my nature. It makes me literally sick to my stomach when I feel like I cannot be myself around a person or group of people. I’ve had many dark days struggling with this issue. Not because I am unsure of myself but because of how I expect people to act when I say things or just present myself to them.

So here I am. I will be as honest with myself as I can be and I will do my best to always present that to others. I love myself and nothing can take that away from me. I hope you will continue in my journey with me. They say it gets better from here and I believe them. Life is beautiful and full of wonder and I never want to stop exploring it all.

Reflections

I look back on the last year as most others do around the new year. Some big changes were made in my life and they took quite a bit of adjustment to accommodate. People walked out of my life because our shared journey wasn’t compatible with their necessary path through this life. I’ve finally made peace with this fact but I would not have gotten here without some help from my friends – and a crap ton of Beatles songs.

I have shared my true self with more people this year and instead of feeling shut down and hurt, I feel more free. More people are accepting the true me simply because I took the time to show them. Some of them are still coming to understand everything and it will be learning process. But overall, I found love in 2014 and not in the traditional Hallmark movie sense but in the vast respect and joy of being myself.

My goals for the new year are quite simple. I want to remain happy. Remain in this place of happiness that I have found in myself. I will surround myself with people who love me and enjoy my company and distance myself from anything toxic which tries to take my happiness away.

And of course, as always, my goals for writing are the same: write often. I have a book in the works that I hope to get through editing this year so I’ll have to keep you updated on how that goes.

Whatever goals you set for yourself this year and whatever you go after, let it be for your own happiness. Don’t let yourself get caught up with what everyone else thinks you should be doing or what they think is right for you. Only you know exactly what you need and desire in this life. Stay true to that and everything else will follow.

Cheers to you.

Different

I am a creative being spilling over my brim with insights and ideas. I watch when I’m silent instead of speaking words that are just forming on my tongue. I wait for the right moment when a pause comes between their prearranged words. They don’t even notice. Under the surface I’m raging. A storm built up after years of storing the rain waters of my subconscious. I sit quietly, waiting my turn.

They tell me I’m not a match for them. I don’t fit their needs. My schedule doesn’t match or my views are all wrong. They tell me I don’t have enough experience, education, or energy.

But I do.

I’m just different than they are.

Inside we aren’t all the same, as the old saying goes. If we were life would be a breeze. We’d all be fine and dandy and stop to smell the roses, in sync with everyone else.

But different is what we all are and I’m not ashamed of it anymore. You see my differences show me who’s hurting and how I might try to help even though I’ll probably come up short every time. My differences help me create worlds that could inspire the imaginations and encourage everyone no matter where they are in life. But I don’t show them to many.

Because different is something we’re afraid of. “Is it normal” starts too many questions from my old friend’s lips wondering if this thing she loves about herself might cost her some friends along the way. “Is it weird” starts the worry of my friend who thinks she may need a psychiatrist because her views of this world are some she’s never heard from anyone else and she thinks she’s going crazy.

No, I tell them both. No! What you see is magnificent and who you are is beautiful because there is no one else in the world like you and you should be proud of that fact. No, I say, you shouldn’t have to hide the fact that you still love jamming out to High School Musical because it reminds you of the time where they broke free of the status quo and started that spark in you that you could do it to.

No, I tell myself. You are different too and you should be proud of that even though it’s causing you to lose people. No, I try to say, you shouldn’t compromise who you are to be with someone who isn’t going to accept all of that, no matter how many times you need to rediscover yourself. No, I say, wishing I could wrap my arms around myself the way my best friend can, it isn’t you who need to change but everyone else who has ever told you that you needed to be anyone other than who you know yourself to be.

And yes, I do still love you no matter how many times that mirror tells you otherwise. I won’t abandon you because you’re different. I will embrace you and encourage that because that is why I love you.

%d bloggers like this: