There seems to be so much out there about taking the road less traveled, as in ‘make your own way’, ‘be your own person’, ‘don’t follow the crowd’. Somehow we’ve romanticized the idea of being different to the point that most of us have forgotten – or never knew – how hard it is to make your own way in this world.
And I mean completely, not having a parent deposit money in our bank accounts every month without telling us or paying our phone bill just because we’re on the same account. Not that that ever happened to me. I left home at 19, my mom packed up what I left behind in black garbage bags and left it by the front door for me to pick up a week later, and we never spoke again.
That was 20 years ago.
I never really chose the road less traveled. I never consciously thought, ‘oh, I want to be so different from everyone else that I can’t ever find a friend who truly understands and accepts me’. It was only after the fact that I realized the path of my life took some weird twists and turns that most people wouldn’t understand or be able to deal with. Hell, half the time even I don’t understand them.
So when I see all the posts, tweets, and memes about how great it is or would be to make your own path in this world I call bull shit.
I’m not saying it isn’t great. There are parts of my life I wouldn’t change even if I could, but I am under no delusion that my life could have been different, easier even, if I hadn’t been so stubborn, so unwilling to follow the crowd, or born into a different family. But, then again, I’m not sure I had a choice.
I’m not saying don’t be different or don’t take the road less traveled.
Please, please learn to think for yourself and make decisions based on what’s best for you. But know that by doing so you will be unpopular most of the time. You will stand out and be open to greater ridicule. You will be lonely.
There will be times when you question your sanity and wonder why you said and did the things you did. There will be times when you think the price to pay for conformity isn’t too high. There will be times you try to lie to yourself just to make things okay.
But then there are times when, in the wee, small hours, you realize that you are no worse off than anyone who has had a ‘normal’ life. Those so-called normal people have troubles, issues, and baggage just like you. It doesn’t matter that their lives have followed the regular, normal path, they are sometimes even more unhappy than anyone else.
And that’s when I realized that being happy with my life isn’t about other people or being different or even the same as them. It has taken a substantial amount of time, but I’m finally coming to understand that I am never going to do things the way anyone else would – and that’s okay. Even if it’s harder than it has to be. There’s nothing wrong with finding out just how much shit you can handle on your own and not break.
It gave me knowledge and experience I would never have had any other way. But more importantly it gave me empathy and understanding that everyone in this world is hurting for one reason or another.
So maybe we’re all on the road less traveled…