Moving away from “home”, not once but twice in my life, taught me so much about who I am. It showed me that to be “me” away from all the preconceived notions and opinions about who I had always been, I had to decide for myself just who that person is. When not surrounded by those who had formed solid impressions of my role in their reality, I was faced with the challenge of creating my own existence, my own reality.
The funny thing about it is for all of the security and comfort that comes from being “home”, there was also always a stigma attached to who I was in relation to my environment. Who I was in school, who I was in that small town microcosmic universe. What mother was I? What friend? What person??? There are an infinite number of childhood insecurities that accompany us into adulthood. Being tossed out of my comfort zone and forced to face those insecurities head on was/is one of the most extraordinarily cathartic experiences I have had to date.
Meeting new people, making new friends, finding common ground in uncommon situations taught me to see the commonalities we all share as human beings. It helped me to recognize that EVERYONE feels inadequate sometimes. Everyone feels pressure to live up to some imaginary idea of normal. We all question our thoughts, our choices, our beliefs and our desires… Is it alright that I am this way or that way??? Does it matter if I “fit in” with this group or that group? Should I pretend to be something I’m not in order to feel acceptance?
I began to really ponder what matters most to me. What makes me happy and what I can do without. What I found is a sense of “soul” integrity. A wealth of internal knowledge about just who I truly am, and more important, who I am not. I moved back to “small town USA” with a newfound confidence in my capacity to relate to others from that place within myself where I connect with them. That place in which I realize that we are not so different after all and that all the external preoccupations are simple distractions from the truth. That behind all the status symbols and fashion trends, behind the money debauchery, and class distinctions, we are all the same. We all want the same thing. To love and be loved.
Making new friends has become almost like a benign and joyful addiction of mine. Connecting with others at a deep and meaningful level, letting people see me as fallible and alright with that, is like a badge of honor. I feel like I have figured out a great mystery. I have discovered a wealth of compassionate reciprocation. And truth be told my interactions on the whole are 99% of the time rewarding and pleasant. Seeing the world as an endless opportunity to build heartfelt relations is exhilarating and feels truly rewarding and purposeful. I am a friend. I am your friend!