From solo traveling to spirituality to entrepreneurship, I keep choosing to do stuff that is statistically uncommon. So when I am sitting with a bunch of people, I am usually different. Earlier I had some hesitations – is it okay if I did this? What would people think? But, over the years, I find it simpler to just open up and share my true thoughts. Understanding people’s mindset and how they will respond is easier. I can anticipate a lot of the response.
Doing Uncommon Stuff & Faring Through the Social Implications
I know that I can opt for many uncommon things without really worrying too much, because usually it gets managed as long as I am willing to make the necessary adjustments. For eg: I managed a fairly decent professional career along with traveling. Both get adjusted a bit – I work when traveling. And work isn’t the usual corporate 9 to 5 office and it may (but not necessarily) mean lesser money.
I also realize that a large number of people don’t opt for uncommon choices. In fact even the simplest action where they will stand out from the group seems a tough act. Even though they want to experiment & explore – the instinct of self preservation is too strong. They will choose to do what the group does. Often it may involve getting bored and cribbing.
Well here are all the reasons why I suggest you get real. Get to know yourself first (because without that, there is nothing). I have written some blogs towards getting to know yourself that can help you with that. And then Get Real! Add some transparency, honesty, truth and love in your life. 🙂
Because if you don’t, you are most probably missing out on a LOT of wonderful consequences of the same…
Makes You Grow:
Being open and honest about your thoughts and inclinations leads to many situations which makes us think deeper. I get asked so many questions about solo travel by people around me and my blog readers. Even this blog – Inspirituality – has led to multiple detailed conversations that have given me insight into other people and their innate spirituality.
Apart from other people, just writing blogs by itself is one of the best ways of articulation and developing your thoughts about a matter. The act of expression itself leads to Growth!
The Next Level:
If you want to unlock the next level of whatever you love doing, then being open and talking about it can be a real joy! This can lead to serendipitous connections which can open so many doors for you. You could meet mentors, inspirations, teams, partners and so much more.
But it is not just about other people here. See, now that I write a blog on spirituality and have adopted such a lifestyle I get an added impetus to go further in this. So when the Kumbh mela came around, I might have felt lazy or some such, but I figured that if I am so keen in this field let’s do more!
The quality of your life is decided by how you are within. Being open and real about what you truly care about can be a self fulfilling activity – it boosts your actions further because you realize how serious you are about this.
Like Minded People:
On the spiritual path ‘sant sangati’ or the company of like minded seekers is considered of great importance. The chances of finding like minded people even in other spheres of life, when you are hiding (your true passions), gets that much more difficult. Also they, the other like minded people, might not find you so interesting if they are open about themselves, while you are hiding it.
त्रिजगतीं सज्जन संगती रेका
भवति भवार्णव तरणे नौका
Company of other seekers allows you to cross through this cycle of life and death – Bhaja Govindham song by Adi Shankaracharya
This spirituality blog has been a very interesting journey so far. The articulation of all these thoughts itself has been invaluable to me, but I also found people within my circle who had interest in these matters. I found new friends who were looking into spirituality but from non-traditional angle. In fact a friend of mine was going through some health problems, and I referred her to my experience with emotional health and she found it very relevant.
Slowly I now have a bunch of friends who are into their own spiritual paths. This is so great for me.
You Aren’t THAT Uncommon
Once you have a circle of like minded people around you, you might find yourself not that uncommon after all! And this feeling is priceless. Thankfully, I have this feeling almost at all times now a days because I have made a network of such people around me. Also I keep reading blogs and stories of people that are doing some more uncommon stuffs.
However, to feel this, one of the important steps is to actually cut down on activities that don’t interest you at all. You may have been doing them for the sake of social connections, but cutting down on these can be amazing to focus your life. Also it saves up time and effort which can be directed in the activities you actually care about.
For example: I have pretty much cut down on partying, boozing and other activities that are a result of boredom & entertainment needs. I hardly watch movies in the theater – I would rather indulge in something I truly care about. Like exploring the city. Or going for classical dance/plays/music performances which can be entertaining, enjoyable and also meditative experiences.
Encourages Others Like You:
If there is even the smallest reason to be silent about certain uncommon interests you have – then you can safely assume that a large number of others have chosen to keep silent because of that reason. So you speaking up is a big step from a social perspective. Think about it – why did the ‘gay movement’ get so popular? Why did any movement for that matter get popular and later even changed how society thought? Obviously cause the people started talking about it! Often it would take years, but finally even the laws can change across the globe. While there are activists who give a lot of time and effort to make that change happen but the one person who is sharing his thoughts and stories transparently in his circle of people is invaluable. You can be this invaluable person.
In fact, I consider it my social duty to promote a few of my thoughts whenever I meet new people. Like solo travel, intelligent lifestyle choices, undue stress on academics and such whenever I meet new people. I do it in a way that they find interesting. Not as a way of giving gyaan or a monologue – this would just turn people off. I feel this may give a boost to the person dreaming about a different life but not daring to seriously think of it.
Honesty With Yourself:
Too much talking. Sometimes writing blogs and talking to similar people might lead to a ‘too much talking’ syndrome – where you talk a lot and after a point you are not sure if what you are saying is actually true. If you are mature enough then you need to take the effort to get back to your true feelings every time. And it is rewarding. It will make you a lot certain about your inclinations and your own truths.
Educate The Peoples:
This is another advantage when you are vocal. Often when women around me are talking about woman safety I often give them very different Point of View because I have been on the road solo in all sorts of situations. Most women are assuming imaginary ideas of their safety – mostly created by media and social fear. Similarly, it is interesting to hear gay people talking about their gayness, it helps clear many myths we may have.
Only the genuine people who choose to be honest and real will spread the right education about the matter in society.
Separate The Chaff:
One of the reason you DON’T want to open up is because some people would be offended or turn against them or ridicule them. There are two things in this,
Firstly, be careful of your articulation. Keep in mind the reservations that other people have in their mind. Otherwise they may misunderstand you or even make fun of you. It is important how you articulate your thoughts.
My suggestion is to talk about stuff that is of most interest to people, because people want to know more about stuff that interests them. Usually I tend to start with a story that happened while traveling and then just nonchalantly add that I was solo traveling. Nowadays anyway solo travel is known. Also when I talk like solo travel is so common, most people get into the flow too.
Secondly, there are people who aren’t OK with my choices. Well, that is OK for me. I just let them be. Nothing much to do about it. There will always be this lot. But the good thing is that now people are opposing me for the right reasons.
Here is another story of my life when I acted transparently,
I had a hard time at a yoga center. I had lived there for a year as a full time volunteer. But then fed up with administrative issues, I left. Later, I tried to get a decent response, about all the issues I faced there, but nothing worked. I only got some insulting responses in return. Finally I blogged about it. I had a choice to blog anonymously. But I did it openly – because I had nothing to hide. In fact I didn’t want to hide my thoughts any more so I wrote a very transparent blog on my ordeal at the organization. Over time the organization blacklisted me – and that was hard for me too. Because ideally I would have loved to find some middle ground with the organization, but it wasn’t possible. I soon realized – when I was a full time volunteer at this org, anyway the people were horrible. Now that I am out off it and have written my true thoughts – the people are still horrible. They have blacklisted me and often I get emails from the followers insulting me. But who cares!? Being on this side of the fence is SO much better.
So if you are scared people will oppose you for doing something you believe in, just know this – it can be a great relief to be on the right side of the game! Anyway people will oppose you, but this way at least you are playing the game & not just faking it.
As I have heard many Buddhists say, be thankful for those who support you on your path & also those who obstruct you on your path. As an obstruction is also a support in disguise as it makes you stronger in your resolve. 🙂
Flip sides: when you do get vocal then there are couple of pitfalls to keep in mind,
Too Much Talk:
Especially on the spiritual path this becomes a problem because spirituality at the end of day is not about talking. The danger for people is that when we talk too much, we might get “intellectual” which is pointless for sadhana. So it gets tricky. Applies for other spheres too, like in travel you find a lot of people going on about “A real traveller is …….”. The reality is that real travellers are of all size, shapes, colours, thoughts, likes, interests, ethics…..
Falling into a rigid kind of thought process becomes a trap in itself. You need to be free to explore and understand how things are for you and then express the same.
Changing Your Mind:
Sometimes after a few years you may change your mind. For eg: maybe some incident may happen which makes me think a few years down that solo travel is in fact not safe. Well, then it is fine. You need to be able to take it well enough and be honest about that too.
The fact is that as we grow older our thoughts do change. It is totally fine… in fact we should enjoy the process as it is inevitable. And your honesty allows other people the same.
About the blog post I had written on the yoga center – many years since and after getting so many emails from readers about their myriad views – I realized that the post was doing disservice to the reader – as they were not getting the complete picture. So I changed the post. That whole saga with Isha foundation took place 8 years ago. I changed a very popular post read by lakhs after few years! And it is fine. In fact the story with that place is still unraveling…. things will still change in the story as time goes by. And it is Ok.
So if you do change your mind after some time, be happy, you are growing 🙂
Just be honest about the change of mind, that usually works fine.
So get out there and be the Real You.
Psst: So there are a few cases where I don’t tell the truth. This is with some of my older relatives who would utterly freak out if they knew I was solo traveling. So I just tell them I am going with a friend. Over time I think they figure I am traveling solo though. So you need to have some judgement about matters…. if people around you are not ready for the truth then just lie through your teeth and enjoy the process while you are at it. 🙂
These groups of people need NOT be told the truth,
- violent tendencies towards themselves or others
- extreme worry warts or any other kind of extremes
- dumb folks / trolls
- children – I am kind of so – so on this. In general I like to explain the kids the truth as they tend to understand at least on a deeper level. But it depends on the matter.
Hope this blog post helps you go out and be real 🙂
And if you have gone about doing something very different from others, do share your experience with me. Would like to know how you fared through the social implications of it.