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?