This is a word I’ve been thinking about today. I do not know anyone personally who I believe has experienced as much personal freedom as I have. I disconnected from my family mentally and emotionally at a very young age, and physically by age 17. Because of this, I really don’t have a lot of time or patience for “authority figures” or for following a normative path in life. I’ve always lived my life following my own desires and cleared my own path.
Most people I meet are not like this at all. They are the opposite. They are still connected to their families, and this leads them to have very normative, and therefore highly conditional, work and life relationships. It is isolating and lonely to feel like I am the only one traveling on this path. I long for relationships that satisfy me, yet I often feel like the relationships I foster demand a type of compliance to “normalcy” that I am not able to offer. They are based on conditions, not true connection or communion.
When you look at people who have really made a difference in this world, they are often people who lost one or both parents at a young age (or legitimately disconnected from them in some way at a young age). This is true of John Lennon, Barack Obama, and countless others. There is something about that formative break with “authority” that sets people on a different life path.
Often the women I relate to most have had a relationship with their paternal caregiver that was negative enough for them to denounce their given surname and use a different last name, because their given surname was or is their father’s name (I did this). When you grant yourself this type of freedom, it is not an act of rebellion or defiance. It is an act of survival. No young woman WANTS to disown her familial identity, even if it is only at the level of her name. It is not a “fuck you.” It is a “help me.” Changing your name is a big deal. Doing so is indicative of a completely denunciation of a formative aspect of one’s development.
I think people have a terribly difficult time grasping how difficult it is to not have parents, and to feel like you are charting the course of your entire life by yourself. I love my freedom because it means that my choices are mine, and no one else’s. I am living a pure life, and have pure thoughts and experiences as a result. I am educable, and I truly learn, because I don’t have a lot of the resistances that people who “follow” others have. All my interests are mine, all my passions are mine. I am incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to persuade. This quality is not immediately readable in my persona, which is gentle and tends to be misread as docile or impressionable. I am not impressionable.
Often, I think people choose to be followers because it is easy for them, and it allows them to not be responsible for their own lives. Most people want to be told what to do. I DO NOT WANT TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO, so people assume that I want to create a life where I can’t assimilate or “settle down.” That I am just a rebel who loves to be contrary. I do not want this. I hate watching friendships fall away because I’ve evolved and the other person is still worried about what their parents will think. That’s incredibly painful. It makes me scared to get close to people in the first place. It makes me fear any work situation, because I feel like, at some point, someone will ask me to be less of myself or different than myself in order to make them feel better about themselves.
Being on my own has allowed me one huge advantage. I have experienced ego death countless times (now being another one of those times), and am no longer on an endless quest to fortify my ego. I do not experience a lot of people who have done this, so this is another point of extreme isolation for me.
Often, with friendships and especially with romantic relationships, I feel like I’ve been brought on for the sole purpose of ego fortification. “Make me feel like a good person.” “Make me feel powerful.” If I am continually in the process of understanding my own ego so I can interrogate it and, when necessary, transcend it, it is really impossible for me to exist in service to another person’s ego. Especially when this person has not made his or her internal awakening a primary pursuit, and who is therefore not on the same journey I am. I can’t be a loser to make you feel like a winner. I can’t be ugly to make you feel pretty. I can’t make you feel like you’re a great person if you’re not a great person. I can’t envy your life to make you feel better about your life. I just don’t have that capacity as a human being. I am on a different path.
This is the path of awakening. Every day, I wish I could be a person who could be satisfied purely by her material existence, which honestly has often been quite extraordinary. It is deeply heartbreaking to feel so isolated with my evolving journey. But when I hear people talk, I mostly hear how they are just parroting their parents or their friends or their employers. I just can’t relate. When I listen to them, all I hear is how they’ve (most likely subconsciously) ignored their own evolution and expansion in favor of superficial hierarchical goals—for feeling like they are better than someone else. This just doesn’t connect with me. I can’t pretend that the surface of life is what is important, when I know that we are here for a deeper reason.
We are here to make a difference in this world. I know that I had the childhood I had because I was being prepared to be someone who is capable of independent thought and therefore independent action. I feel that in my bones. I do not want to meet people who cannot or will not connect to that—who like me for the magazine I write for or for what they assume is some level of success or achievement. Or worse, people who like me purely for my intellect (which is honestly mostly a product of being so isolated). It is too heartbreaking.
I have begun to make greater emotional and physical demands on my relationships, and it has been interesting to see what these demands have turned up. If someone needs unconditional love and acceptance—I’m here. I’ve given that to myself, and can now give it to anyone who needs it. That’s my crowning achievement as a human being.
If someone needs ego fortification, they need to look elsewhere. I don’t have it to give, in any respect.