In all sincerity I'm thankful every day that Steemit exists. Thankful for this light-and-love-filled community which embraces all kinds of people from all walks of life. Diversity and difference is celebrated here. It's the one place I don't feel judged or categorised.
Thank goodness for this alternative way of earning a living that's flexible and doesn't require compromising your sense of self. It means I can be a Home Mama, and raise and educate my son myself - this option doesn't exist for me in the mainstream world. Unfortunately though, my Western culture frowns on anything alternative and is relentless in its demand for conformity.
Contrary to opinions of others throughout my life I don't try to be different. This opinion has frequently been the cause of much grief and inner turmoil for all my 32 years, because I am who I am, and although we can change aspects of ourselves, we can't force ourselves to be someone we're not. I simply act and react in accordance with my nature and moral convictions. I'm just living my life as me!
I didn't choose the 'unconventional box' instead of the 'mainstream box'... I don't even think in terms of boxes. Mainstream's just like a template isn't it? So what's wrong with designing things yourself if the template doesn't work for you? There's some strange notions mainstream folk have about unconventional folk, most of it nonsense, some of it really hurtful.
Tell me, what's foolish or irresponsible about following your heart rather than the crowd? Why is going your own way a thing to be cautioned rather than encouraged? So I prefer my wellies to my smart phone, so what? So I haven't used either of my degrees for a career but instead choose the simple life... what difference does it make to anyone else (and have you not heard of 'transferrable skills')? I turn to nature before I turn to doctors. I didn't have a big white wedding. I want to home-school my own son. I don't have a TV, and I don't care for afternoon tea in Betty's. Why do some people object with such fervour to the less traditional approaches of others? Who the heck cares so long as we're not hurting anybody?
Creating a life that allows your true nature to flourish, that supports health and happiness, and enables you to be around people you want to be around is perfectly reasonable, is it not? I've constantly been told “everyone else has to...” (slog it in a job they hate, or bow down to imposed authority, or have their cigarette breaks dictated to them by their boss) ... so what makes me so special I can simply “opt out”?
But I'm not “opting out”... I never “opted in”!
I consider myself an autonomous person entitled to the freedoms of self-determination, as everyone should be. Why should we live a particular way just because we're born into a particular culture with particular expectations?
The Western Capitalist culture thrust its expectations of conforming to mainstream lifestyle upon me, and all my natural instincts repelled it from a very early age. It wasn't a conscious choice, nor deliberate revolt, nor attention seeking. It's not the result of peer influence, or a magazine I read once, or rebellion for the sake of rebellion. I've felt like this since I was a child... it was in me already.
Western mainstream society tells me I should pursue a career that allows me to be financially comfortable. It wants me to admire and aim for a certain level of social standing, to associate with certain types of people, to own certain material items (or at least know how to use them), to have approved plans for the future, to be content moving between the box I live in and the box I work in.
Be productive. Be useful. Put up, man up, shut up. Sacrifice anything you can for profit and personal gain and if you don't you're a hippy or a quack. You're weird.
But I despised the drudgery, the endless expenses, the uniformity, the general lack of love and spirituality. I kept thinking of the ground beneath the pavement, once lush and green and alive. So I felt like the ground beneath the pavement, suffocating more with every dollop of concrete.
I have no interest in a way of life that promises to leave me unfulfilled no matter how hard I work, not to mention one that supports the destruction of the planet in the process. What I long for is the simplicity, the raw skills, the spirituality and the genuine community of the indiginous.
I've never been able to accept the idea of suppressing true natures and moral convictions in order to meet the popular attitudes of what consitutes 'normal behaviour', 'normal thinking', 'normal choices'. What's important are the things that person stands for, and how they treat others. Everything else is entirely subjective and shouldn't have to in any way resemble the approaches of anyone else. Each to their own I say, as long as we cause no harm.
But you know, many Westerners are ever so arrogant and full of prejudice, assuming the whole world ought to and wants to live as they do, and if they don't there's something inherently wrong with them. We're taught in school that the 'third world', the uncivilised and undeveloped ought to be pitied, ought to be aided and introduced to the luxuries of our culture. These attitudes are reinforced daily through propaganda most people aren't even aware is all around them. But I was. For me I was living in a wicked empire akin to Babylon and I just wanted to get the hell outta there!
Through experience and observation I find that unconventional folk are generally happier and healthier, more compassionate and generous, than those living mainstream lifestyles. Once you escape the box, you notice all kinds of possibilities. There's more than one way to do things, thank God!
For every one of my unconventional 'baffling' decisions, the mainstream person baffles me with theirs. The difference is - I keep my opinions to myself unless specifically asked.
But the thing is, most of the time 'unconventional folk' don't feel the need to judge or comment, they just live and let live. The judgement, in most part, comes from the mainstream crowd. They think they have a right to criticise because they're the majority. They think it's okay to voice uninvited opinons about your decisons or finances or parenting. They often look down on unconventional living, assuming we're lacking wit or wisdom. That we're foolish, irresponsible, that we don't think things through properly, that we'd even risk the wellbeing of our children as we go 'la la la' through our lives!!!
That's the one thing guaranteed to cut right into my heart - suggesting my son's wellbeing might be compromised through the way that I live. Me! - a trained nurse, a health researcher and advisor, apparently needs to be reminded not to neglect my son's health. Huh??? My Steemit friends would find this absurd, since they know the complete opposite is true. Nothing is more important to me than the health, happiness and opportunities of my precious son. Nothing! Crikey blimey. My blood boils and my heart weeps at these unfounded assumptions, but what can I say other than take a look at my healthy son, look into his smiling eyes, and judge my life by its fruits!!!
My view is this: we can choose to centre our lives on truth rather than a fallacy, that is, that we have no alternative to the system, that the mainstream way is the only way.
First we become aware of what governs us, then we choose what we are governed by – either our own moral code or the so-called values encouraged by a self-serving consumer culture. We're so afraid of standing out, of standing up, of getting into trouble, that we allow terrible people to continue in their control and destruction of our lives (and souls!) and the very earth that sustains us.
Some people like me realise how much freer, healthier, happier we can be doing life our own way. In this case surely we're left with no choice but to put fear of these social and legal pressures aside in order to uphold what's true about ourselves? Otherwise we're constantly compromising and trying to fit that square peg into the round hole. It really doesn't fit.
But you live your life and I'll live mine.
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("5 Cs" shared with kind permission of @kiwideb)