March to the beat of your own drum by Beatus at Dreamstime.com
This year started like any other for me. Listening to the advice, opinions and foundations of beliefs about all the things I should be doing to structure my life. “To live how I should live.” To march to the beat of the societal drum.
It takes a fair bit of energy and fighting of intuitive urges to ignore what your heart is telling you to do, to be yourself while marching to everyone else’s tune.
Of course, this seems the most sensible path to take. I think it’s in our psychological make-up to fit in, to conform. After all, how many times have we ‘done our own thing,’ and been teased, excluded, questioned, or even punished?
And I was exactly following this path of doing what I ‘should’ be doing. Until the night when I began to think about taking my own life. With trying to keep up with the demands of uni, for example, I was burning the candle at both ends. In Psychology, we are required to do third year Statistics. Psychology has shifted from the paradigm of being abstract, nebulous, ‘guess-work’ about what lays beyond the unknown frontiers of the mind, to having the need to be taken more seriously. For this to occur, it now became known as the “Bachelor of Psychological Science.”
And the incorporation of Statistics in the course has allowed the subject to become empirical, and thus the social sciences have more of a chance of being taken seriously.
Anyway, what matters is, I hated it. I came out of each lecture cloudy, and no amount of work made it easier.
I take medication of depression. However, it was only getting worse. The night I was considering suicide. I was considering combining my medication with the only other drug that worked with it. Always.
Trouble is, 5 times out 10, the mixing of side effects landed me in the Intensive Care Unit, where my survival was a mere matter of chance. I already have suffered a stroke as a result of an overdose, and my brain went without an oxygen.
Okay, so I am risking becoming a vegetable for what - to make people proud of me; to fit in and achieve some sort of social status?
And how unhappy am I? Is this worth it? No.
At the end of my life, what would I like to have achieved? I would have liked to have made a contribution. Is there much chance of making a contribution if there’s a good chance that in desperate attempts to achieve, I’m dead before I’m 40?
I smiled at someone this morning. They asked me if they knew me, and I responded in the negative - “No, I’m just smiling.” Her pleasure was genuine “No, it doesn’t cost anything to be nice.”
The high-achieving brainiacs who achieve remarkable results from their research - yes, their contribution is more obvious.
I don’t know. I might be wrong, but the number of people who respond to a smile seems to like them in a less astounding way, but I know it’s real. But I know I’m not wrong when I say that volunteer work may not bring you money, but the contribution is just as concrete.
Secondly, why work if it isn’t bringing you pleasure? I know what brings me the most pleasure in the world, and that is writing.
I might earn no money or very little, but I do believe I can make some difference writing about causes I care about - animal rights, psychology, anti-discrimination. I've even considered myself lucky enough to be a published children's author...to name but a few.
And, I consider myself one of the lucky ones, to boot. I don't have a lot of money, but I do what makes me happy.