So… something new happened on my blog recently.

A post of mine went a bit viral.

Not viral (in terms of the internet)… not truly viral… but certainly viral for ME and my lil’ ol’ blog.

I usually get around 100 visitors (to my blog) every day.  That number triples or quadruples on days I post something new (by the way – I only checked my stats yesterday.  Usually – I never check stats).

But 3 days ago… my in-box started pinging wildly with new folk signing up… new twitter followers… and, when I looked at the blog… I realised that 3 days ago, I had 28 000 visitors to my blog.  Yesterday it was 36 000.  This morning, it’s steadily climbing at 15 000.

The post in question – is pretty short (especially compared to some of my long, ranty posts).  Mostly – it’s about a story from Ken Robinson’s book “The Element” – that deeply moved me.

And the reason why that story deeply moved me… is because I related – in so many ways – with the story of the child who just didn’t fit into school… into the System… into the box.

In so many ways – I identified with the all-too-common situation of being a unique, creative individual – up against a school-system that continually tried to box me, mould me and force me to be something I’m not.

A system that continually told me that I ought to fix my weaknesses (like maths, science, accountancy)… instead of truly invest in – and focus on – my strengths (like art, music, storytelling).

A system that told me that the highest qualities to aspire to was loyalty (usually to another system – like government or religion)… obedience, patriotism, following-the-rules, fitting-in, being “sensible”, “practical”, “responsible”, “respectable”, “acceptable”… and being a good, obedient, dutiful, un-questioning little citizen (and later, raising good, obedient citizen-children).

It’s not just the school-system that does this, by the way.  The school system is where the moulding begins… but, in many way, our toxic westernised society simply endorses and strengthens these unspoken rules.

We’re told that life works a certain way.

That there’s a “right” way… and there’s a “wrong” way.

The “right” way works like so:

  • Go to school for 13 years (or more).  Obey the rules.  Pass the tests.  Impress the powers-that-be.
  • After school – go to university (regardless of whether you even know who you are – or what you actually want to DO with your life).  Get a degree.
  • After university, get a job (doesn’t matter whether the job is fulfilling – or whether it makes you happy – or whether it plays to your unique strengths.  Or whether the work is something relevant and important that makes a difference in the world. What matters is The Money.  You get “a job”… for… “the money”)
  • And – after all – you need the money… because now you’re already in debt (usually student-debt… for a start).
  • Buy car.
  • Buy stuff.
  • Get married (with big, expensive wedding and short, expensive honeymoon)
  • Have children.
  • Buy big new house.
  • Buy new stuff for new house.
  • Maybe get a promotion at job (money used to buy bigger house, bigger car or more stuff).
  • Send your own kids to school prepare them for the ‘zact same process.
  • Save for “Retirement” (on the bet that you can buy yourself the freedom to live the life of your choosing – “later”)
  • Get into more debt.  Buy more stuff.
  • Exist on a routine of working, eating, sleeping, TV-watching, shopping and bill-paying.
  • Until – eventually – you’re old… and (maybe – if you’re one of the fortunate ones) you retire with enough money to chug around your nice retirement village in your golf-cart.
  • Die.

But… y’know… what if this “Right Way”… doesn’t work for everyone?  What if there are people who are different?  Or who want something different out of life?

  • What if there are people who don’t want to send their kids through the System of School (usually because they – themselves – were damaged by that same system)…(?)
  • What if there are those who couldn’t give a steaming turd about things like “status” and the accumulation of more *stuff*?
  • What if there are those who would rather live in the *NOW*… than spend their lives fretting and what-if’ing about the future? (The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying is a useful wake-up call in this regard).
  • And those who would rather travel the world than ‘settle down’ in the suburbs?
  • And those who don’t give a damn about the-latest-fashions… and what’s on-trend… and what’s-hot-right-now… and the latest celebrity scandal… and what’s on Reality TV…?
  • Or those who just – want something *more* than rush-hour-traffic, dull-routine, suburbia, shopping malls, soap operas, office cubicles, fitting-in, measuring-up and being “normal”…?

And… I think that for me… and certainly for most people – deep down inside of us… fighting to be heard amidst the din of societal expectations… is a very human desire for freedom – and the right to just BE who we are.

And I wonder why that’s the reason why my post has been receiving so much traffic.  Perhaps we’re all just searching for ways to embrace the unique individuals that many of us lost sight of… after years and years of forced compliance.

My natural self… my real self is creative, adventurous, spontaneous, messy, wild, un-tamed, slightly potty-mouthed, risk-taking, idealistic, considerably stubborn – and brimming with questions.

Here’s a photo that pretty-much sums up the Real Me (taken on my 8th birthday):

tramp party

But – for so many years – I conformed to the expectations placed upon me by school, church and society.  For so many (miserable) years – I completely lost sight of who I was!

And life became about fitting-in, obeying-the-rules, being sensible – and “normal” – and doing what was expected of me (and it almost killed me… in more ways than one).

Here’s a photo taken during the I-Must-Fit-In-And-Be-Normal years:

sad heather5

I am SO done with that now.

And maybe you are too.

And maybe we can journey forward together… and find ourselves again.