To some people, taking the path less traveled comes naturally, others fight it. There’s nothing wrong with ‘just being different’, and sometimes life requires a change. Again, I will illustrate from personal experience. Being a quite, and shy child, I kept mostly to my self. Still today, I find solitude in being alone. However, while in grade school, I recall a teacher forcing me to hold the hand of another kid at recess–while running base– just to get me to participate. I also recall being separated by the teachers from my ‘one best friend’– because we ‘were not good for each other’.
Around the fifth grade, this friend ran away from home-and I never saw her again. I recall the rejected feeling I got knowing she did not let me in on her secret, but I never felt like I had to replace this friend with another. Years later–it was coincidental when I found my baby sister was ‘best friends’ with her ‘baby sister.’ I wrote my old friend. She answered–saying her life was great. She had run off to escape an abusive family member, among other things. She wrote of finding happiness afterwards, and meeting the love of her life.
Myself, I had never thought of leaving because that is what I was taught–‘conform to a life of rules, and expectations from those that think they know best’.
Other kids, it seemed, self-worth was measured by an illusion of conformity, and how many friends they ‘thought they had’. With years of dealing with classmate bullies, I can now say that these experiences helped prepare me for the real world. As I entered college, I was surprised one day, when two of these childhood classmates approached me, and suggested that we should stick together–being from the same small town–and now at a large university–‘alone’. I could not forgive them for past behaviors, and carried on my way toward a life of independence.
My heart was tough, and I found it easier to forget than to forgive. I learned to move on–without a moments notice. I had a feeling of independence, and was often flattered when someone commented how they admired my ability to so easily let go. Many years later–finally, someone criticized me for easily running in the face of problems. This made me take a deep look at myself—-and even see how others might easily view me as cruel and unforgiving–although in my eyes, I was just being independent.
It doesn’t really pay to worry about how others see–in the long run–as long as you know yourself–their opinion could be based on anything from rumor, favoritism, lies, or even the truth. Ask a dozen people about anyone’s personality and and you probably would get a dozen different descriptions.
Sure–All those times and people —that I left behind–might have been ‘my new best friend’ had I stayed put long enough to find out. However, by moving on, I was able to discover an amazing, diverse world that helped make me become who I am.
Years later, I saw in the obituary where one of my childhood classmates had passed–One of the two that had approached me in college trying to put the past behind them. As memories relived in my mind, to my surprise, I no longer saw him as a ‘bully’, and now felt compassion–not resentment. Often, it is the one forgiven that has carried the largest burden–although I will never know–in this case. I had never reached back–as he had. Two different paths–two different lessons learned. He is forgiven. Am I? Now to move on.
“Only In Celebrating One’s Uniqueness, Can One Build A World Worth Conformity.”