Something strange is happening to me these days. I'm not as afraid of people as I used to be. This must be what confidence feels like: to stand up and say, "You don't have to like what I'm doing or even who I am, but I won't let that stop me." I don't want to become some kind of personal vigilante where I don't listen to anyone at all, but I think I'm listening to that still, small voice, and I'm understanding that it is better to listen to it than to other people, who are just as damaged as I am.
I've contorted myself in the past to be whatever others wanted me to be, and the end result of that is no identity of your own, and no way to know if you are on a good path or a bad path, because everyone has a different idea of who you should be and what you should be doing. Taking power away from other people that I should be possessing for myself has been a wonderful transition. It was easy with some people, harder with others, and seemingly impossible with a few, but the benefits of freedom and confidence are so rewarding that I'll pay any price to get there with everyone.
This is a battle everyone must fight. For me, it was one step forward and one back for a very long time, and now I feel like I'm inching forward and hardly losing any ground as I go. Once you taste a little freedom in this area, you can't even imagine going back to how you used to be in the world, terrified to be judged by others. When those criticisms don't affect you anymore, you have removed a massive weight from your own shoulders.
It took me a long time to understand that I was in charge of this process. Our parents and our authority figures and society in general tend to convince us that we should be working for the approval of other people. They just neglected to tell us that we won't ever get it, at least not to the degree that we need it. That validation has to come from inside of us first, and then we can accept it from others.
I love the differences that exist between people. Those differing ideas and values are what make the world go around, and if we can be respectful in the way we listen to others and disagree with them, we can move through the world much easier. I don't expect everyone to agree with me and would be shocked if they did.
Since I've been blogging, I've heard from several people who think I'm completely wrong in some of my views, and I respect them for their opposing opinion. But the fact that they disagree with me won't make me change my mind, in and of itself. I'm open to new ideas, and fully embrace the freedom to choose a new thought pattern at any time, but I won't be bullied into it because you say I should. I will reason and consider, and decide for myself how I feel about any given issue.
This kind of freedom is like blue sky that goes on forever, without a single blemish in it. It changes everything, opening up the world in brilliant colour instead of black and white and shades of grey. It means you can be who you are meant to be, and you don't have to apologize for it. Others will judge and criticize, and you can learn to have it roll off your back the way a duck handles water. It gives you what you need to stand firmly on your own ground, with a smile on your face, and the sting of the arrows that come at you will not hurt like they used to.