Late last night I ended up in three simultaneous text message exchanges with friends who were struggling with both their literal and figurative places in this world. This convergence was a rather rare occurrence for me. While I’m always available to my friends I’m not much of a texter so when three separate 4am conversations occur on the same night I tend to sit up and take notice. Which is why today I’m going to forego my typical type of post and instead reflect a bit about life and our relationship to the world around us. After all knowledge without wisdom is like buying a brand new car without knowing how to drive, it might look good but it’s not going to get you anywhere.
I suppose I should start with the simple fact that life is hard, even when it should be easy. While it is true the life of a refugee and a Starbuck’s barista are not remotely comparable in their hardships it doesn’t change the fact that human beings everywhere struggle with issues of identity and community. Put more simply we all wonder who we are and where we belong. Without an answer to those questions we will be in pain no matter how good our lives might look to be from the outside.
To make matters even more difficult the answers to those questions are not fixed points that can be discovered once then known forever. Who we are is constantly evolving and where we need to be can change at any moment. I could wax philosophical about how we are all unfinished poems or flowers waiting to bloom but that would all be bullshit because we are so much more than that. We are who we are, who we were, and who we will be.
I cannot tell you who you are or where you belong, no one can. Those are answers you have to find for yourself. What I can do is point you in the right direction and be a sounding board for your own journey of self-discovery. My first advice is that before you can know where you belong you need to gain some insight into who you are. Which is easier said than done.
Many people when trying to find themselves use labels to define who they are. This is a horrible idea. When you use labels to identify parts of your personality you end up boxing those parts of yourself off until you’re just a collection of words made up by other people. You sever those unique areas that lay in the in-between those are the connections and juxtapositions that make us unique. There is a reason mystics have always put an emphasis on names. Names capture an identity in a way that adjectives never will. Names allow us to see the whole of a thing.
The journey to understand your own name is a lonely one. It has to be. Because no one else can tell you who you are. But more than that it is lonely because it’s impossible for someone else to understand us if we do not understand ourselves. It doesn’t matter how much love is showered upon us by others we we’ll always deflect it away because it is not the love we seek. We ignore the love of our friends because we miss a lover’s embrace. We reject a partner’s love because we wish it to be our parents approval. We dismiss the friends who give of themselves for those who withhold themselves from us. We do all of these things because no matter how great the love we receive from others is without a knowing ourselves, without loving ourselves, we cannot fill the void within and as such we will always feel alone. Even in a room full of people who would willingly lay down their lives for ours.
All of this is to say you are not alone in your loneliness. That feeling like you don’t fit in is a universal experience. And it can really suck. But when you’re stuck in a situation where you think you don’t have any other options remember that that’s a load of horseshit. Good people tell themselves they don’t have a choice when they pick up a burden that no one else is willing to bear. That’s not true at all they could be selfish and walk away like everyone else did. But that though never even occurs to them. But it should. If just to acknowledge and accept that part of themselves that has to do the right thing. Bad people do the same thing but in reverse in order to avoid responsibility for the wrong choices they’ve already made.
When you examine your motivations and the decisions they’ve led you to you begin to see who you are and why you are where you are. Then perhaps you can be content with the fact where you are at that moment is where you are meant to be at that moment or perhaps self-examination can give you the power to make a change.
In any event I hope this helps you remember that no matter how trapped you may feel or how lonely the world may get there is always a new dawn on the horizon and always someone who cares.