Shattered and tattered, here I am, facing off with my greatest fear: the opinions of other people, the ways of this world, the overwhelming positions of hive minds and social in-groups which I rarely, if ever, fit into – the expectation to conform and fit into a mold, the need to perform. How does one effectively carve one’s path in this world? How does one blaze his or her own trail in the face of mass consciousness that doesn’t align with one’s soul vibration? Is it really as easy as finding those who resonate? How does one find his or her audience?
I’m going through a serious period of inner reflection and self-healing. I’m facing off with childhood traumas and learning to navigate the world with a reset of my vibration – a renewed sense of self that is in alignment with who I truly am. The trouble I face is the terrible tremors that come with facing a world filled with judgement, vitriol, ridicule, and flat our narrow-mindedness.
I sat here at my desk prepared to seek out new opportunities to use my writing talents, education, and deep work in spiritual development and consciousness evolution to illuminate humanity. I went to a website that I knew paid well and had a space for caregiving. The plan was to start small – start with something very personal and familiar to me so I can stretch my legs and get my bearings back. But then it came: the anxiety.
I found the submission guidelines and immediately felt defeated. I felt that I wasn’t enough. I didn’t have the recent high profile writing clips or two decades of policy experience along with a doctoral degree that qualified me as being valuable in the world. I knew I wouldn’t be able to perform. I began to tremble. I began to shake. I wanted to just give up on life.
I failed the test of being able to go out into the world and do my thing – to start anew and shine. Or did I?
Since pre-school, I have had stage fright. I can remember standing on stage in the midst of my classmates, frozen in place and crying my eyes out instead of singing along with the group. I have always had this debilitating fear of being watched, being judged, being ridiculed – having to perform and be something I’m not. Now that I’m older and have processed the decades of trauma that came with never knowing how to deal with that fear of performance, I can take a better look at the issue at a higher level of consciousness.
Some may just chuck my fears up to performance anxiety or even imposter syndrome and say, “Just take a deep breath and keep going.” But the issue is deeper.
My biggest issue with performing is that it’s not in alignment with who I am; it’s about what others want me to be. When contributing to other publications, one has to follow their guidelines, write in their voice, use their tone, use their style, live up to their expectations, be a carbon copy of the editor’s ego, or be just mediocre or “normal” enough to make the editor feel safe in approving one’s work.
The same applies in the work place. One has to be the brand and appease the boss’s ego. The same in school. While learning the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, one is still expected to look, act, or be a certain way. One has to to fit the mold of what a good student should be, what the home life should look like, and even what the culture of the area is like.
For example, I grew up in a majority black area with majority black consciousness, but I never resonated with that. Instead of being accepted and understood, I was ostracized by my peers, doubted by educators, and pretty much treated as an afterthought because, well, I didn’t fit what made the egos around me feel safe. I wasn’t the right caricature.
Over and over, the trend has been the same. I don’t fit the mold and mind of the masses and what is expected by society. So, since I don’t fit the safe space and comfort zone of over inflated egos, I must be the problem. It’s as if my soul and unconscious mind knew this would be my fate and the anxiety and trembling are signs to run the other way and find my own sense of safety.
The end result is the challenge to carve my own path. To let go of the need to perform. To be my own person, exude my unique vibration and carry on in the world with my own authentic walk.
Seems simple. Yet, it’s so difficult.
The typical solution for the misfits who don’t fit the mold of small minds is to blaze their own trail. Start a business. Write a book. Build wealth and build a school. Go off grid and live with nature. Rebel against the orthodox by normalizing the unorthodox. While these solutions are valid and have their place, even they run up against not only the hive mind of society but also another level of performance expectation.
Humans are creatures of habit and are very averse to change. People hate new things, which is why the rule of seven is so crucial in getting new ideas to stick – from products to music. The rule of seven states that a potential customer needs to see your product or ad at least seven times before he or she responds to it. Most people simply don’t want anything that will disrupt their illusion of safety, so they reject it. But like that annoying song on the radio that you eventually can’t get out of your head, the tide can be changed. The problem is, one has to go against the tide in the first place, and sometimes, it takes more than seven times to get through to the people one is trying to reach.
So, how does one create his or her own lane? To be honest, no one ever really does. To succeed in getting one’s life or career to the next level, there’s still a set guideline on what is expected. From the structure of a blog post to how a business is set up to how many times one posts on social media to what a good art is and isn’t, there are still standards projected onto creators that are based on commonalities that satiate collective egos and go on to stifle pure authenticity, even after all the work to create one’s own lane has been done.
If and when one does reach a level of authenticity, one is still trapped in the shadow of guidelines and safe spaces created by other fallible people, who they themselves were trying to break the mold of their time.
Breaking the Chains
Authenticity is romanticized and in some ways reserved for the wealthy elite. When the bills are due and one is in survival mode, it’s hard to carve out that path of authenticity, as the time it takes to make that big break is simply too long for the person who needs to pay the rent now. The usual route for the survivalist is to get another job, fit another mold, and maybe have enough free time to work on the dream of freedom. However, the dream doesn’t have to be deferred.
For me, I’ve taken to my blog to continue writing in my style and in my voice. I have my podcast where I share my thoughts in my own way. Most importantly, I’m taking a new approach. Instead of writing for an editor or someone else’s audience, I’m going to write what is on my mind and in my heart and simply find the best place for my content. If it’s personal, it’s on the blog. If it’s relatable or has a big but controversial message, it’ll be on Medium. More inspirational? Possibly Thrive Global. More policy driven? I’ll find the best place that isn’t hung up on a narrow agenda and actually appreciates multiple perspectives.
We really can create the lives we want and we can be authentic in our walk. However, the expectation of living up to society’s or a certain industry’s standards will never go away. The best course of action is to start with one’s own vibration and authenticity and then go where those who operate at that same frequency are. Don’t limit oneself to one place, group, job, career, or publication. It may take some trial and error, but it will happen. The match will come. And in the end, freedom will be won.