After reading through some past blogs and contemplating this past year, I realized it may be helpful for my fellow dreamers and all out weirdos if I did a post about the side effects of stepping into a counter culture existence.
I am sure many of you have put together that my partner Michael and I are not your average American statistic. We don’t have kids, we have moved 10 times in 6 years (the funny thing is NONE of those moves were military related haha), we built a truck camper in the driveway of a townhouse in a metropolitan area, we don’t have debt, and well… we are both psychotherapists for God’s sake! And just when I think we might somehow “normal out” or fit into society… we get weirder! Before I knew it I was meditating daily and trying to convert my brother in law to my theories about parallel universes and that Bigfoot is an extraterrestrial… I’ve said too much…
Anyway, all of this change and embracing the true inner weirdo was not easy. I continue to feel the side effects of living outside of norms. And while I am proud of being weird, there are days when I long for a steady paycheck and simply following societies collective rule book. Even though I have felt more joy, more alive, and more complete than ever before… I do wish someone had warned me of the side effects.
So without further ado….
The side effects of embracing your inner weirdness and being your authentic self:
- It Takes Preparation:
Many of our cultures narratives about transformation and embracing your calling leave out this step. You may feel like you can’t take one more day at your job, but the reality is, you can. Taking steps like eliminating debt, saving a nest egg, and decreasing your living expenses radically improve your journey. For my partner and I, it took us two years of working more than full time to pay off a boat load of debt to make way for our dreams. In fact, it wasn’t until we cleared out the clutter of debt from our lives that we even felt we could dream. We knew we didn’t want to be normal because as Dave Ramsey says, “normal is broke and desperate” but I had no idea there was so much weirdness deep down until the debt was gone. Being debt free opened up a world of possibilities and I am grateful for it every day.
2. You will often feel alone, lonely, isolated, etc:
Don’t expect everyone in your life to understand or maintain close connection. There are strong narratives that are generations deep about what life “should” look like. More importantly, don’t expect an outpouring of sympathy when then going gets tough. I have learned that I am in a place that many view as a luxury and it is hard for them to have a lot of sympathy. It is a reminder that the transformation is all yours…. good and bad. I even have an incredible partner through this journey, but that doesn’t always cure loneliness.
3. It’s not “going your own way”… it is bushwhacking a new trail in the most dense and hazardous jungle in the world:
There is a tendency to speak of transformation from the perspective of feeling as though it is somewhat complete. The part about hard work, perseverance, loss, grief over your old life, and utter fatigue gets left out. Of course it is worth it. But the term “paving your own way” or “going your own way” conjures up the image of a paved road. This past year has felt more like bushwhacking every step. Looking at the narratives and patterns that kept you stuck in the past or held you tight to social norms will help you grow into your weirdness.
4. You Write the Rules Now:
Now that you are choosing to write the rules of your life its time to let go of the old rules. Do the inner work of paying attention to what is important to YOU. What values do you want to live by? What you want to say yes to may require saying some painful no’s. Be willing to look at this, it is essential to your reorientation to the world. Just like the side effect listed above, it is tough inner work but totally worth it.
5. It is Terrifying:
I realized quickly… ok that is giving myself too much credit… it took me a solid 4 months to realize the constant disappointment and pain I was feeling was because I was holding tightly to an idea of how I thought things should go. There is no predicting how life will go when you commit to embracing your authentic self. The only thing that went as planned was the day I left my job. I have realized now, how little of life is actually in my control and at first it was terrifying and liberating. There are definitely “oh shit!” moments and wondering if I have made the right decision…. but then again there I go pretending I have control and it is only my decisions that make up my life.