Sometimes it feels like my existence is a protest to societal norms, expectations and standards.
To those who have met me, it may seem easy that I act like I don’t care what people think of me, but it is very very tasking. It’s a mental work I practice every single day. Posting on social media, dancing on the road, eating alone at a restaurant, singing and performing at karaoke…
Growing up a preacher’s kid, I joined the choir when I was 8 years old. People had high expectations for me, I’m sure some thought I’ll marry a pastor or close, as I was consecrated for the Lord Jesus Christ already. I wasn’t your regular pastor’s kid. People’s highest prayer for me was that I’ll sing in front of kings and not mere men, and God will carry me into the palace like he carried David. Although I’m sure my parents knew the evil spirit of coconut head dwelled strongly in me and will hinder this prayer. They often held deliverance sessions to cast out the spirit. Sadly they failed.
In school, I was among the top students, always the award-winning English and literature student. Every year without fail. I was in the debate team, and quiz team, and will represent the school in competitions. I was my parent’s daughter. My mother was an educationist. They were both word oracles, avid readers and writers.
Because of all of these skills I did not ask to be born with, I was often expected to behave in certain ways, be a certain person, and uphold the standard of Christ and education. All eyes were on me. They were not imaginary people waiting for my downfall from an imaginary pedestal, they were real. People and classmates would report me to my parents and teachers who were not even there, teachers will report me to my parents who had to sometimes act like they cared I flouted a rule.. I couldn’t get away with anything. As long as there was one more person in the room while I did something bad, it will see the daylight. It was hard being under that spotlight all the time. I tried playing goody-two-shoes for so long but it was just never enough. I have lived with perfectionism and social anxiety all my life.
Now I do still feel imaginary eyes on me. When I enter a room; I think everyone is staring at me. And usually, I have proof that they are, because I dress in a way that turns one or two heads. I know I’m often good-looking and deserving of these stares. Depending on the wavelength of my emotions, I either feel flattered or uncomfortable.
But will I keep doing what I do that makes people stare at me? Yes. ABSOLUTELY!
I can’t imagine living my life any other way. Well I have imagined, but I couldn’t do anything about it. I haven’t fully come into the space I was meant to occupy in this life, but I’m one leg in that space, and I’m shattering all of those expectations that weigh many people down. I’m doing things exactly how I shouldn’t, and following what comes naturally to me. There are still voices in my head asking me to do it the way it is done. To not be too different so I won’t ever face crushing loneliness again. But I’m too old and self-secure to care. Nothing is wrong in what I do, except what I feel is wrong. And if my instinct honed over several years of self reflection, strict upbringing and therapy isn’t enough, then it is not rules that’ll save me.
I hope you find the strength to strike your own path, and stick to it. I hope you know that we are all unique and different and special; whatever your type of special is, there is space for you in the world. You are not less than the next person, but you are not more. Because the pressure to be more, or better than the next person, will always be an anchor that’ll bring us down from the pedestal of greatness we’re forced to stay on for the sake of maintaining society.