Do you ever get the discomforting feeling that you’re a bad person? Or maybe lazy and undisciplined? A person who never learned how to develop passions to follow? Your own special place in the world? The ability to contribute something unique to the world or at least to your community?
Maybe there’s something the matter with you.
Maybe you haven’t learned everything there is to know about yourself. Maybe you think you know yourself but in fact you are a relative stranger to you.
How does the average person describe themselves? Most people will start by telling you their name and then describing what they do for a living, whether they are married or single, how many kids they have, what country, state or province they live in and who they are related to.
If they want to get a little more detailed then they will talk about some of their hobbies and interests. But that about sums it up. As much as these facts are what we all show to the world it’s really what we think about when we think about ourselves as well. In fact, most people have a tough time making a connection between the discomfort they feel when they suspect they might be bad, lazy, dispassionate or undisciplined and why it is they feel this way.
Could it be that we function in a kind of autopilot mode living a life based on something we’ve been taught about ourselves? The education system, parents, friends, business associates. All have an influence. As we move through the various stages of life our understanding of who we are and what the matter is with us anyway doesn’t get more complex it actually gets more watered down. It seems that we are buying into what is deemed normal in society. Oh, there goes Jack. He’s an accountant with a wife in three kids he lives in a nice house in the suburbs. He enjoys playing golf on the weekends. It is then that we simply become part of a specific demographic. Our place is with a group of others, with similar interests to be marketed to. It’s where we are comfortable even though deep down we are probably ignoring the very essence of our own individualism.
Beyond the rather sketchy basics that make up who you are, do you know who you are? Have you sat down and taken the time to analyze yourself, gotten to know the you behind the you? Or would that entire exercise be disconcerting, confusing or in any way too unsettling?
In case you hadn’t thought about it there is a unique little person inside of you with haunting memories of joy and pain and loneliness, of hopes and fears and aspirations. But there are threats too and this is where it gets truly painful and may be the single most important reason that we choose to keep our own image of ourselves mediocre and simple.
The threats I speak of are not something we are born with but rather a part of our early human experience and all of this it is directly related to our exposure to others including family members, friends, and any authority figures we come into contact with.
In most cases these threats make us beat up on ourselves, feel like we don’t necessarily deserve what we crave and most times even give up on our most intimate hopes and dreams. Those nasty feelings of regret, feelings of guilt, a kind of unworthiness, the sense that we are not important enough and my personal favorite…shame. Any one of these and even a combination of them makes up our own concept of ourselves. It confuses and even bewilders us. It muddles our inner most feelings so much that we often don’t truly know who we are or at the very least don’t know how to be who we are.
Living a mediocre life is a choice. Some, no most people are content with that. This essay has been written for those people who have always felt that something in their own world is not quite right. Not fulfilling enough, not hitting that sweet spot. You know who you are.
Do you often get the somewhat distressing feeling that who you are is not enough? And isn’t that always accompanied by the equally distressing feeling that you haven’t got a clue what to do about it?
I consider myself a Bohemian. Someone who is not living a life that others are expecting me to live. Someone who has decided to break most of the rules handed to me by others who took authority over me at an earlier time in my life. You might be interested in knowing that the journey to the place I am at now, although not complete, has been as painful as it has been joyful. Many times, I have felt alone and isolated. Many times, I even questioned whether it wasn’t just simpler to move with the herd, expecting and striving for so much less in my life than I am seeking now.
If you choose to walk down the path of Bohemian, as I have, I will warn you that it will not always be easy in fact it is rather complicated. Before you can change factors and attitudes in your life and before you can even think of making others understand you will be forced to take a good hard look at yourself and come to terms with those old fears and piercing threats.
In the end, you will come to realize that you must have your needs met if you are to be ultimately happy. The unfortunate part of this is that so many of us look to others for a kind of fulfillment or completeness. But that, tragically, cannot work. Being intimate with another person is a kind of addition to life, it’s not life itself. If you are seeking harmony and serenity in the personhood which essentially makes up your life then you can only must learn to meet your own needs. You must strive to replace the old outworn threats of guilt, shame, unworthiness and regret with new feelings of self love, self esteem, self worth and a whole lot of self value. In order to be a healthy and fulfilled person, a true Bohemian, you must develop these higher-level characteristics. It is then and only then that you can enjoy living in a world of your own design which is better, happier and more fulfilling.
It is then that you can consider yourself a truly joyous Bohemian.