June 26, 2023

Nurturing your inner self.

I sat down with an old work colleague recently and there was a segment of our conversation that really struck me. 

We began talking about how as young boys and then later young men we lacked clear mentors who could lead us down a path of success through life. 

This really takes effect when by the time we reach early adulthood we feel lost and unclear on what we should be doing with our lives, confused as to understand where it all went wrong because we’ve had to figure it out on our own this whole time.

I had a realization that as a young kid my artistic tendencies were never nurtured. I was always pushed to excel in school and get into a good college so eventually I could get a good job. It’s a story as standard as they come.

But I think now I’m beginning to understand the effects it’s had on me as an adult.

This discussion dips its toes into a conversation about immigrant families forcing their children to go into structured paths and career fields to almost ensure that they are successful to validate the traumatic experience of moving your entire life across the world for a better life. They rely on their children to make the whole ordeal worth it to them, but while simultaneously taking out unresolved trauma and culture shock out on their naive children, giving the children themselves their own traumatic baggage that they will have to sort through later on in their lives.

But that’s a conversation for another time.

From my own personal experience, I have always had artistic leanings since I was a young kid. I was always drawing, coloring, all the things children do to express their creativity. 

But it seems like once I got to a certain age, it all had to stop and I had to abandon my interests in order to focus on school and the daunting task of getting into college.

I don’t have to tell you about the rise of mental illness among high school age kids because the environment that they go to school is highly competitive and frankly, fucked up.

So for at least eight years of my teenage life I have to abandon these things that allowed me to express myself creatively, in place of homework and AP classes. 

But now, years later after it’s all said and done, I feel like I didn’t really gain much from it.

I’m sure it was valuable for the development of my brain and the responsible thing to do is go to a good school and yeah yeah yeah.

But I find myself almost three years out of college with no real interest in the things I studied and thought were important at the time.

I find now that I must nurture my own creativity, because it was stifled for so long. I feel like I’m playing catch up, simultaneously exploring the things I’ve wanted to for almost a decade, and also learning about myself because it feels as if it was silenced for almost a third of my own life.

I understand the logic, just get through high school and get into a good school. It’s a practical and fool proof plan that works for most people.

But the part that nobody really teaches you how to do is how to understand yourself and what you’ll actually enjoy. I guess that’s what your twenties are for.

I almost feel as if I’m unlearning many of the things that I was raised on because frankly, I’m just not happy doing the things everyone says is the ‘right’ thing to do.

To the point now where whenever I think I want something, I question if I actually want to achieve that or was I just conditioned to because I’ve been told that is what you’re supposed to do at this stage in life.

I can’t tell you how many times I’m told to just go ahead and work for the state on a weekly basis, to which I cringe at the idea of.

For so long I’ve felt like the responsible child who always did what he was supposed to do and went down the path that was approved by everyone. 

All those years of being the good little golden child has turned me into someone who is itching to do something totally different and random, like my teenage rebellion came about eight years too late.

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