Ow–can’t you see I’m a square peg?

146/365 square peg into a round hole

Image by rosipaw via Flickr

I grew up not only an only child but an only grandchild to my one living grandparent and only niece to my childless aunt.  Lots of noses in my business, lots of conflicting opinions on who I should be and what I should do (nobody cared what I wanted to be other than to eradicate all my wrong ideas about that). The one thing everyone agreed on was that school was important and good grades crucial. Since I am very smart (so the standardized tests say) the grades were pretty easy to come by (as long as you ignore math and science after eighth grade). In order to have one thing that made everyone happy, I focused my attention on being very good at school and wound up attending a prestigious university and then went on to graduate school and law school.

In grad school I demonstrated a great lack of patience with academic writing and horrified many with my announcements that great tomes were overblown expressions of a few ideas that could have been described in more like 10 pages—you should have seen the looks on the faces around a table when I suggested at a meeting that we’d serve people better if we published an article suitable for the Reader’s Digest instead of an academic journal.

After law school my impatience with academia grew.  I left great literature and biographies and documentaries behind.  When I began this spiritual journey I read avidly at first but with little or no tolerance for any metaphysical book written in what I call “PhD Speak”. This increasing distaste for the academic/intellectual world I trained most of my life for puzzled me until a friend of mine who was studying handwriting analysis and tarot reading asked to practice on me.

Among many spot on insights he read that I am not a person who is naturally drawn to intellectual pursuits (I knew him after my academic days so he didn’t know about the change); my nature is more grounded and into life in the physical realm. It was the first time I realized that excelling at academics was not my idea or my path. I was smart enough to be good at it when pushed in that direction but it wasn’t my direction. All that education is part of me, changed me even. For instance, creative writing flowed from me like breath as a child but now I write easily only in the land of essay/brief style. My most satisfying and present moments are often when I’m practicing or teaching the triggers of release or yoga.

I think a lot of families encourage their children to meet parental expectations without allowing the children to be themselves. I became so immersed in everyone else’s plan that I lost track of myself and wound up with a self-image that didn’t really reflect me. Now I’m a blend of the path I traveled so long and the self that’s closer to who I started out to be. Have you lived any aspects of your life for someone else’s expectations? Did it change you or hide your real self from you or put you in a box you couldn’t see out of?  Have you ever been a square peg in a round hole?

See also To have a self or a no self that is the question

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7 thoughts on “Ow–can’t you see I’m a square peg?

  1. I can relate to much of what you’re saying. In my case, I graduated from engineering school, probably to please my father, though my parents didn’t truly pressure me into it. That degree helped me understand scientific and left brained folks, which was helpful. Yet, for for a long time, I felt I was traveling down the entirely wrong road with my work. It wasn’t until I moved into writing as a career that my life started to feel like more of my own. Coaching more or less found me, and I’ve just kept going with it.

    Sounds like you’re born to be a healer and a writer. Your essays are very creative. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time before you return to creative writing.

    • Wow, you have made a big switch. I’d love to know how many people wind up pursuing a path that suits others but doesn’t really reflect them… I appreciate your thoughts on my writing.

  2. I have a similar story, studying economics and business, while all the while I was a writer. However, I now see that I can use that business knowledge to further causes that I think are worthwhile. I have learned to embrace all aspects of my journey. We are all wanderers after all.

  3. How marvelous that you found your path–or at least learned what it’s not. Some people spend their whole lives doing what someone else expected of them, only to find themselves unhappy and discontent. I can so related to your feelings on academia. I’ve also been considered an “intellectual” and have worked teaching English as part of my living for a long time. I love the books, but I hate the theory. It just sucks the soul out of them.

  4. I can definitely relate. I grew up in a very practical family, and although they exposed me to the arts, I wasn’t supposed to become an artist. I rebelled and became a dancer although my earliest instincts were to write. Although I too am intelligent, it is my creativity in all areas of life, not my rationality, that serves me well and is who I truly am.

    • I’m so glad you were able to express yourself! For me it was music even more than writing and though I had 12 years of piano and 5 of voice when I started sending off for music school catalogs I was told in no uncertain terms that no one was paying for a music degree — I wasn’t rebellious nor independent enough to figure out how to do it on my own… Thanks for reading and commenting.

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