Friday, February 15, 2013

Favorite Quote Friday (Perspective)

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

My general personal perspective has gone from blurry to stubborn to open-minded over the past few years.

By my general personal perspective, I mean my individual views on life, society and other people.

Let’s explore each phase and how I ultimately reached a state of open-mindedness.

My blurry perspective phase: This could also be referred to as my “narrow” perspective phase. I used to think life was a straight line and that there was only one way to live it. I believed that you had to be really lucky, special, rich, attractive, confident and likable to go any other way. I didn’t believe in following big dreams or exploring nontraditional paths. I was raised around the belief that life should go as follows in this exact order: Go to school (Elementary school, middle school and high school) – Get a minimum wage job and driver’s license at 16 – Immediately proceed to college after graduating from high school at 18 – Land a traditional desk job/career – Buy a fancy apartment or house – Get married – Have children – Work, work, work, pay bills, pay bills, pay bills – Get old and retire – Die.

It looked something like that. I literally thought this was how life was supposed to work. At sixteen, I needed my license and a minimum wage job. After high school, I needed to go to college and major in something that didn’t interest me at all. After college, I needed to buy a fancy apartment or house and start my uninteresting career. And so on and so forth…

Welp, none of that happened when it was “supposed” to. At the time, this sent me into a spiraling panic of “Oh no! It’s not supposed to be this way! I’m not living my life the same way as everyone else! I’m a failure!!!!”

Looking back, this was a blessing in disguise that saved me from wandering down the wrong path. But at the time, it seemed like a tragedy.

Basically, I thought there were “rules” in life and that I wasn’t following those rules. That’s why I call this perspective the blurry perspective. I didn’t think for myself. I didn’t follow my heart. I just blindly and mindlessly went along with what the rest of society seemed to be doing and put all of my precious time and energy into trying to please others. Yuck.

Okay, let’s move on to the next phase…

My stubborn perspective phase: Once I epically realized that life doesn’t come with a rulebook and that I could do “whatever the hell I wanted,” I got kind of prideful and obnoxious about it. “Screw college! Screw real jobs! This is my life, and I am going to do with it what I will!”

I distanced myself from friends who attended college or had real jobs because I thought they wouldn’t possibly understand my nontraditional life decisions. Whenever someone raised an eyebrow after I told them what I was planning on doing with my life, I would immediately label them as judgmental or narrow-minded. 

“I don’t need these narrow-minded people in my life,” I declared to myself. I basically chose to only surround myself with people who were pursuing similar paths as mine. Underneath all this “rebellion” and prideful preaching about breaking away from the rest of the crowd, there was deep insecurity and damaging individualism.

I began to isolate myself. I avoided family gatherings for fear of being judged as the “black sheep” of the bunch. I avoided talking about my dreams and life plans with others. Whenever someone asked me what I was up to, I deflected the conversation as best I could. I concluded that nobody understood me and my dreams and that I was better off being a recluse. So I became one.

As much as I hate to admit it, I sort of looked down on people who seemed to follow the traditional timeline of life. I assumed they were miserable and weak. I was the one being judgmental, not them.

I just basically got really stubborn and conclusive about my views on life. Whenever someone challenged me or seemed to disagree with me or did things differently than I did, I’d turn my nose up at them or cut them out of my life altogether.

My way or the highway. If you wanted to be in my life, you had to think just like me.

And now the final phase…

My open-minded perspective phase: Although I occasionally still struggle with my blurry perspective phase and my stubborn perspective phase, I think I’ve generally reached a place of open-mindedness by now. I’m more consciously aware of how I choose to perceive certain people and situations.

It’s amazing how much your world can open up and improve when you adopt an open mind and a positive perspective. Everything changes. It really is all about perspective. You find what you look for/focus on.

For example, if you assume that every human who doesn’t do things the way you do is judgmental of you, then every human who doesn’t do things the way you do will seem judgmental of you.

If you assume that the whole world has gone crazy or that everyone is violent or that nobody can be trusted, then only the violent or negative headlines will pop out at you when you look at the Yahoo trending topics or read the newspaper and such. And every person you come into contact with will seem untrustworthy on some level.

My point is that having an open mind has made my life and relationships a whole lot brighter. I no longer marinate in unhealthy thought patterns or assume that my family and friends are super critical of me. I no longer assume that everyone is out to get me. I no longer assume that every human I come into contact with is going to hurt or judge me.

And I no longer believe that life is a straight line or that my way is the best way.

I’m no better than the next person, just like the next person is no better than me. What other people do and think is none of my business. I’ll live my life, and they can live theirs. I have my opinions, they have their opinions. I have my way, they have their way.

It’s fine. If people do or think differently than I do or think, we can still be friends.

Speaking of which, my relationships with family and friends have since improved. I no longer exclude them. I see them as loving, warm people with good intentions, therefore they appear that way. (We get what we look for, remember?)

My general personal perspective is no longer blurry, stiff, narrow or conclusive. It’s open and accepting---towards life, society, other people, etc.

I am totally entitled to my individual views, opinions and life choices. And so is everyone else.

<3 Madison 

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