I was at a meeting of partners of a missionary outfit and one of the speakers in his bid to inspire people to ensure their lives count for something, made an example of two Biblical figures, Enoch and Noah in a manner I disagreed with.
In his estimation, Noah’s life counted for much because he built an Ark, saved his family and all of humanity, whilst Enoch just lived without affecting anyone even though he was so close to God that God took him without him dying. He told people to choose to be a Noah and not an Enoch so their lives would count for something.
I disagreed with him because he made the common mistake of judging two different persons using the same scale. As far as God may have been concerned, both of them had different paths to walk and the purpose for which he made them was different. The fact that one’s path “seemed” to be more purposeful does not in any way invalidate the other’s path. In the same vein, some of us will reach heights that many will never attain but it doesn’t mean that we will not live fulfilled because we have not achieved success as defined by someone else.
His analysis reminded me of a tweet I read some time ago. A man was looking back at a relationship that had ended and was berating himself for not understanding that his partner was different from him and that she had different desires and aspirations. With the benefit of hindsight, he had come to the realization that some people did not desire a fast paced life nor were they eager to join the rat race and that while they were prepared to support their partners in their race to the top, they were content with playing the middle field; these were not overly ambitious and were comfortable in their places and at their pace. He realized that even though he loved her, he unintentionally and unconsciously resented her for not wanting the things he wanted and being as driven as he was. In the end he gained everything he wanted but lost her due to the singular fact that he was pushing her too hard to be who he wanted her to be.
In his contemplation, he realized that although she worked at a much slower pace than he did and did not take all of his advice as to how to run her business, his partner reached and exceeded all of her stated goals. He then wondered whether a lot of us are not doing ourselves and our loved ones a great injustice when we insist that they must behave in a certain manner, contrary to their make-up, we often ride roughshod over their protests irrespective of whether it sits well with them so long as it is what we think is best for them.
There is an overwhelming pressure from society to conform to its expectations and live our lives like everyone else. The years have seen a growth in the coaching industry and we have a proliferation of life/ success coaches, social influencers and motivational speakers who tell us we can be more than we are and attempt to show us how to live life fully, how to succeed in our chosen professions and businesses and how to become people of influence etc and whilst it is okay to be driven, assertive, ambitious, successful, prosperous, extroverted and influential, it is also okay not to want to be very rich but comfortable, to want to stay at home and take care of the children, to be introverted, to be gentle, soft spoken, slow paced and easily satisfied, to not want to scale up our business because we are satisfied with what we presently have.
It is okay to need things or people so far we don’t depend fully on others to make us happy, to love with all our heart even though we may get hurt, to speak up about things we like or do not like, to express ourselves the way we want in our dressing, work and manner so far as it is not offensive to the general sensibilities. It is okay to be ourselves and not have to feel that we are of less value because we do not aspire to be like the super-rich, or as thin as the beautiful models we see daily.
It is not okay to determine that people are not fully living because they do not do the things we enjoy doing, to insist that our way is the best way or perfect way to achieve a particular goal, to insist that a person’s value is dependent on how many people they can influence, to deride people for not wanting the things we think they should want or have. A classic example is where we tend to mould people into our own image as in parenthood and love relationships.
As a mother it is so easy to expect my child to think the way I do, clean the way I taught her to, dress like I do, cook the way I do just because I brought her up and her attempts to do things differently may be seen as rebellion against my person and values. It’s the same with marriage, many times we expect our spouses to react to situations the way we would have and if they don’t, we begin to deride them for their perceived weakness. It took me years to stop expecting that Mr. Aisi will react to situations the same way I would because he was my husband.
It takes courage to be oneself, to define and live out what really makes us happy, not to go the way of the world, to make peace with the raging forces that lie within us begging to be let out or to be left alone. To understand what makes us tick and to go for it unashamedly. I have found out that when we are our own person it is much easier to embrace our vulnerabilities and find joy in ourselves.
Today take a look in the mirror and tell the person you see there, l love your uniqueness and it’s okay to be different.