I was clearing out (i.e. throwing out) some unwanted photos from the “wonder years” this morning and was reminded about how I was – and who I was with – at that age. I had a lot of people in my life that thought of themselves as rebels and punks, people who wanted to be “different”. Apparently being a rebel, an “individual”, involved dressing according to the uniform(!!!) of one’s preferred (and by extension, coolest) subculture. And despising anyone who was seen to belong to either the mainstream norm, or other “uncool” subcultures.
I truly hated highschool with a fierce passion, and all that social tribal/bullshit politics that went along with it – so out of sync with my environment I was. It made everything difficult – socialising, relating, and, indeed, learning in a classroom (which is why I spent so much time playing truant with friends).
The funny thing about those days was that I really was different, but was desperate to not be. My differences though had nothing to do with my haircut, or clothing, or accessories, or friends. In part they had to do with the fact that I was coping (barely) with serious illnesses that weren’t necessarily visibly apparent to others. But, mostly, they had to do with the noisy universe in my head – and the sense of alienation that instilled in me for many years. That universe made me absolutely miserable back in the day. I could be in the middle of a party, bourbon in hand, surrounded by laughing, happy people… and feel absolutely alone.
Thankfully though, at 26, Life has forced my hand, and I’ve made peace with my mental ideosyncracies – the best part of this whole “oh, just shut up and grow up, already!” process.
Accepting that “universe within” and the sometimes anti-linear, mysterious way my brain works has enabled me to do six things:
1) Accept myself as an individual and that there is nothing wrong with me – this is the way I’m supposed to be;
2) Accept the unique talents that I have and work on specialising in them, rather than wish I was anybody else or had anybody else’s gifts;
3) Focus on getting that “right brain” to work with my “left brain” and approach something resembling clarity;
4) Accept that I’ll always have to work a little harder to explain my thoughts to others, who are most likely on a different wavelength;
5) Realise that my true friends – i.e. people on the same wavelength – will always be a diverse group in age and background, rather than people necessarily my age, rendering me once again “tribeless”… but by no means alone; AND
6) Discover the true meaning of the word “Rebel”.
The culture seems to think a Rebel is someone who is either bad, someone who flouts the law, or someone who is superficially, externally different.
I think this is an entirely inadequate, adolescent definition.
A true rebel is a SOUL REBEL.
It’s someone who sees the right thing to do is hard, but does it anyway.
It’s someone who refuses to worship the accepted gods: money, self-serving power, fame.
It’s someone who refuses to follow the crowd, when the dictates of the crowd are base and dehumanising.
It’s someone who is more interested in real issues than salacious vapid celebrity culture.
It’s someone who of their own volition seeks to do something to serve the interests of the planet and the people on it – not just their own needs.
It’s someone who refuses to dismiss or ignore the suffering of others.
It’s someone who is a Visionary rather than an observer. An observer sees what is and seeks to fit into it, or reports it, as is. A Visionary is someone who sees what is to come, what is possible, and works to bring it into existence out of the current reality. And joins others who want to bring it into existence too.
These characteristics are the benchmark against which I am choosing to assess my progress in life.
I’ll always be materially minded and security conscious – financial stability is important to me. But I’m discovering there is a better way of attaining it than worrying about it and chasing the almighty dollar. A way that simultaneously allows me to be exactly who I am… happily.
So, I can’t say honestly that I am a true Soul Rebel yet.
But hopefully, eventually, I’ll be one.