Ever since I was little I felt that something was not quite right. I never felt I belonged, I felt I was different to the other kids at school and I found it hard to relate to others. Because of that, I never truly lived my life because I was always searching for something more.
Throughout high school I became progressively depressed because I tried so hard to fit in. I never felt comfortable with who I was. When I left school, I moved cities to try and find what I was searching for but found myself in more despair because I couldn’t procure a sense of belonging.
I spiralled into a deeper depression because it became more apparent that I didn’t have the ability to mould into the society I was living in. A couple of years later I packed up and moved overseas to give happiness another go. I thought to myself that maybe there was another culture in the world I was more suited to. But the world just seemed bigger and in turn it made me feel smaller.
I was diagnosed with depression and later in life bipolar and felt a slight sense of relief knowing there was something psychologically wrong with me.
It became a temporary answer to my problems but I relied too much on my diagnosis to dictate my happiness or validate my sadness. So, as I always had done, I kept searching for that something more.
I continued to travel the world by myself, where I found solace writing in my journal because I felt it was the only entity that truly understood me. Me, myself was the only thing that truly understood how I was feeling. And that realisation soon came to be enough.
I read over past entries and it became evident that I knew who I was, I just hadn’t come to terms with it. The love and acceptance I was longing for was within myself. That is when, as cliché as it sounds, I became my own best friend.
It has taken me years to realise that what I was thoroughly searching for was all within myself. Self-acceptance that yes, I may be different but I am unique and that is what makes me special. I finally came to accept that it was not something I ever needed to change.
More often than not, we are taught to conform to society, to fit into these tiny boxes of what we should do, how we should act or what we should feel. The media tells us what to believe and Hollywood tells us how we should look. When we aren’t able to conform, it makes many of us feel alienated and isolated. The truth is, we are all special, individual beings and that is something we should embrace.
After my acceptance, I slowly discovered there are others out there who have felt like they never truly fit in. Those who were misfits at school, who ate their lunch alone, who spent most of their time hiding in their rooms. People who been called “weird, eccentric or strange” who don’t understand this concept of “normal”.
They are the people I have found connection with.
I bond with those who talk about their mental health struggles, who don’t act like robots or carbon cut outs of what a person should be. But most importantly, those who wear their hearts on their sleeves.
I feel the closest connection to people who cry when they are sad and I have utmost respect for those who express feelings of anxiousness. They are the people who I look up to, because they are honest with themselves. Those are the people that make me feel it is ok to be me.
I see people in 9-5 jobs, wearing clothes that have come off a rack from thousands of items that have been mass produced. I overhear people’s conversations about gossip, celebrities lives and things that don’t hold significance. I see apartment blocks that mimic one another, all in a row and living in that world that scares me.
But then I look the other way and I see people who create their own outfits, who have engaging conversations about the meaning of life. People who ask how another is feeling and if they are genuinely ok. I see run-down terrace houses that hold so much character and I see people dancing down the street to the beat of their own drum. It makes me realise that life is not all bad. Because there are people out there that don’t conform to societal norms.
I now spend less time trying to fit in and that is what has moved me onto the path of happiness. I have finally broke free of the constraints that society puts on us and I feel ok to just be myself.
I remind myself to embrace my uniqueness by occasionally wearing odd socks or my underwear inside out, and I smile to myself because I am perfectly fine with who I am.
I have learnt that life is how you perceive it and happiness is what you make of it. It took me 26 years of struggle to come to these realisations but I can finally live life comfortable in my own skin. I accept myself and I appreciate that there are two sides to every coin. You just have to find the side that you belong to.