From the moment we are born, we are thrown into genetically-reinforced and environmentally-refined foundational bubbles known as families, that over the next 18-25 years will cocoon us, shape us, and invariably contribute in many different ways, to the adults we become. Whilst having a sense of belonging and fitting in, and always having somewhere to call home when the going gets tough, for those of who don’t belong nor fit in, trying to carbon copy ourselves, our ideas, and our beliefs to match those belonging to our parents and our siblings so that we feel more “accepted” by them, is actually more damaging in the longterm.
Those of us who don’t fit the mould, should leave home a lot earlier, if finance allows, to establish who we are as individuals – leaving our identities at the front door before we walk out, with our suitcases and our furniture, so we can venture toward a different kind of personal journey, rather than the journey that was pre-destined/decided for us long before we were born.
As we are growing up the dynamics within our families and where we fit in the pecking order is what silently and inadvertently tells family members and ourselves who is who and what goes where, what kinds of opinions we should have, what kind of personality we should have, and which aspects of our personalities will be accepted and welcomed at the dinner table. You are either someone who realises this, you’re someone who doesn’t need to, or you are someone who does need to and you will never realise how damaging your own family unit are for you. If you are the latter – you will never find your full potential or uncover your truest self, and this is a very sad thing indeed.
This may sound drastic however, sometimes even the people who love us the most and know us the best will judge and criticise us if our thinking is outside what the family understands. It’s called being conditionally accepted.
Some parents and siblings dont even know they’re doing it. And the family members affected by it don’t know precisely what it is that’s affecting them, until they walk away and are able to reflect on different instances where they have felt like an outsider within their own family.
Eccentricity and originality, isn’t a problem within those families who adopt openmindedness. To those readers who grew up in openminded households – you are lucky. You have had more scope to spread your wings and lead the kinds of tension-free lives we should all be leading.
In my case, knowing when to move out of home occurred after the psychological damage had been inflicted upon me. Half of ourselves clings to the safety of familiarity, the people we love and our routines. Part of us knows that our family is unhealthy for us and we need to shun them for our own survival. It’s basic instinct. On the other hand our family unit is safe and very familiar and cosy, so why should we leave it?
We will never truly know who we are as people and what we are capable of: spiritually, intellectually, creatively and socially, while we remain at home, or stay in touch at all. The reason why we will never know our truest selves whilst still attached to our families is that our deepest need for our family’s acceptance and approval of our differences will always be priority number one, forcing our dreams and goals to take a backseat while we spend everyday arguing with our family about why we believe in one thing over another. Do you constantly feel like you always have to justify everything you do? This repetitive behaviour causes a lot of anxiety in those who are or have been affected, if it occurs over an extended period of time.
A few of you will say that you have gone on to forge your own paths and have wonderful rewarding careers and social lives, because you adopted the lessons and principles your parents, teachers and peers injected in you and you did so, no questions asked, and without any thought about it. And you will say you have done so without feeling suffocated, stifled, or restricted.
In fact, you’re probably completely unaware that there are people in the world like myself who differ so drastically from our families, who did feel suffocated and stifled by my family unit, and by their thoughts and ideas because I felt like I had to share their values and beliefs to be “accepted” by them. Subconsciously I desperately needed their approval as opposed to their constant disapproval. While I was craving and striving to own their approval though, I was denying myself the opportunity to be who I truly am. Myself.
I haven’t seen my family in 3 years. It has been the most liberating feeling. I don’t have to seek approval for my beliefs and opinions from people who won’t grant it to me.
I don’t have to have a reason for what I am thinking, or how I’m feeling, or why I want to pursue the things I want to pursue. I answer to nobody, I am more relaxed nowadays, and my cortisol levels have dropped; I’m feeling a greater sense of calm – a calm many take for granted.
Imagine what kinds of lives people could lead without all of that tension? Pretty interesting, successful lives. I understand not all prominent, successful, influential figures in society have led smooth flawless lives – most have had bumpy roller coaster rides too.
However for many people a sense of calm isn’t automatic. For some it takes years to find.