To be oneself...


The best paths in this life are never easy.

Choosing to be who you are, no matter what anyone else might say, is a difficult path to walk. I wish it weren't so, but it is. The easy path is to conform. If you fit into society's box, you will always have friends and people you can talk to. If you dare to step outside it, the only friends who will stand by you are those who are your friends for who you are... and those people can be depressingly rare at times.

As we step out into the darkness, into the forests that lie between the beaten paths, I know that this journey is a difficult one. I cannot begrudge those who choose to stay on the clear-cut roads where they will find safety in numbers. I cannot blame them. This is not always a happy path.

Truly, the ones I have the most respect for of all are those who walked with everyone else, but found the strength to turn away and forge their own path. Rare as people who accept you for who you are can be, they are even harder to find when everyone around you is busy fitting into a socially acceptable box. The kind of person who will take you as you are generally asks that you do the same for them; you will have trouble finding them while trying to be someone else. So those who leave the bounds of what society considers normal are the most isolated of all, at least for a time.

Personally, it was something I never bothered to do, so I've never had to experience everyone I care about turning away from me in an instant, because of a single choice. I think little of a relationship that stands on such shaky foundations as to evaporate so easily, so I've never had much truck with them. If you won't take me as me, you're not the kind of person I want around anyway.

I know not everyone shares that view, though. Many consider poor friends better than the risk of no friends, if they consider it at all. Many care, and can't not care even if they are shown this caring is not mutual. So as painful as it is to watch someone reach out, only to start boxing themselves back up again, I cannot consider the choice an unreasonable one.

For those of us who do walk the dark spaces between, take up a torch. Ballastexistenz works to make people aware of disability rights, and the unfair treatment the physically and cognitively disabled receive. The Bloggess seeks to chase away the shadows and pact of silence surrounding depression and social anxiety. Take up a torch and light the way. If we work away at these brambles, slowly, the easy path may widen. We may manage to make spaces where one can be socially acceptable without having to tear themselves apart and bind away the unique things about them.

And perhaps, if we can't change society, we can light the way for each other. Perhaps we can make a path to walk together, our own path, to tell each other; we are not alone. Here, you will find companionship. You don't need to search for years to find it, and you don't need to give up your self to get it.

It takes strength to stand in the face of society and be who you are anyway, but the more we light the way, the less those who follow us need to be so strong.

And, maybe, the fewer who will turn away from this path for fear of the dark.

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