Throughout my life, well back when I bought into things like labels and stereotyping (not saying I am completely recovered from this affliction of course), I felt like I had my feet firmly planted in two different worlds.
The first world was arty, creative and alternative. Whether it was repertory theatre in Christchurch, Buddhist retreats in London, film making courses in Big Sur or art therapy classes at Elam, I loved mixing with interesting people, creating stuff and getting lost in conversation, contemplation and a general sense of flow.
The other world was commercially explicit, social and fast paced. Think the glamorous balls of the trading floors of London, a Young Entrepreneurs University in Dubai, think tank sessions at leadership development programs and hotel breakfasts and Friday nights at busy bars with fellow budding young professionals in my first job out of university. In this world, I felt alive, powerful and energized.
Something that used to bother me was that whichever world I was in, I often felt a bit ashamed or embarrassed about my ‘other world’. This was, of course mostly a projection, but there were definitely times when an arty mate might jibe ‘oh I can’t see your fancy corporate friends being into this Laurel’, or a work colleague would deride me for going off to my latest ‘drumming and chanting’ pursuit. I was definitely mindful of standing out if I was still wearing my suit jacket or Thai farmers trousers in the ‘wrong’ environment.
Thankfully putting people in boxes seems to be losing its appeal over time.
I recently heard that people born in the 60s and 70s have a massive advantage, in that we understand life before technology was so prevalent, but also were introduced to it young enough that it doesn’t bamboozle us as much as people older than us. I think we also have an advantage of seeing how stereotypes of old simply don’t apply (and having the insight of having previously lived in a world where it did). The two worlds that used to seem so different to me are now colliding in a way that I could never have dreamed off. Think about it, how often was spirituality or creativity talked about in the commercial world even ten years ago? I am not sure we are feeling totally unshackled from the previous judgments, but it’s a start.
Certainly for me personally, it has been refreshing meeting more like-minded friends, those who I don’t have to mentally tag as ‘Kate Sylvester’ vs ‘Kaftan’, but who I know would feel comfortable wearing both. One such friend has shared how she used to be judged as the only person at her home birthing classes who would turn up in high heels; nowadays I think she would be more openly accepted.
Here are some other examples of the ‘alternative’ and ‘mainstream’ worlds colliding.
We only need to look at recently as last week, with the Women’s March movement to see that people in corporate are not afraid to stand up and let their opinions be heard. People I know who have never protested before, were compelled to not only protest, but knit the requisite hat and garner support via social media.
Little side note here; I was going to blog this week about the sliver of silver linings that the election of the new US president has created; it is activating people. If Hilary Clinton had been elected, it would have pretty much been status quo; whereas with the crazy situation America is in now, people are doing things they never would have done so before! Early last year, I was impressed with the idea of individuals not governments changing the world (here is a link to a maybe overly celebrity endorsed video by the UN about that), maybe drastic measures are required to get the individuals to take the action required. But I figured there is enough dialogue online about this situation for now.
Last night I watched the Netflix documentary ‘Minimalists’, and must confess that I was wary that the message might be gift or throw away everything. I was pleasantly surprised that it was more about value and quality, simplicity, affordability and sustainability. It’s things like fast fashion that they are lashing out against, where unbelievably some clothing manufacturers have 52 fashion cycles every year, and have been known to slash ‘one week’ old clothes, to make sure people buy the latest. It’s also the fact that rice and beans cost more than the equivalent weight in recycled clothes. This was a timely movie for me to watch, as we are presently clearing out the attic and the garage, and I had a wonderful time with my nine year old in the weekend raising money for his drum kit at a car boot sale.
We have permission to de-clutter (if that’s what we choose), but hold on to the things we love. Of course we always have had, but often the people who were espousing this concept in the past didn’t share that. I am presently visualising a ‘tiny house’ with the most amazing high-end couch and range!
A quiet revolution is taking place.
One where slowly, we no longer need to identify ourselves as hippie or conservative, activist or pacifist, arty or analytical, spiritual or atheist or straight or gay. I was amazed when I found out recently that a high school where one of my friend’s kids attends has a good number of pupils who are known, accepted and even welcomed as ‘bi-sexual’ or ‘asexual’. Yes, there will be some of you rolling your eyes and wondering what the world is coming to, but those kids in that school, in my opinion, know who they are, and know they can be who they are, without (for the main part) ridicule and bullying. I shudder to think what it felt like in my era if you knew you didn’t fit the expected mold of straight, but couldn’t share it with anyone. The 16-year-old boy I was talking with about it was so unbelievably mature and unfazed by it all!
This Danish advert cleverly demonstrates the danger of putting people in boxes. At the risk of sounding cliché, we all share the same fears and passions, so why keep mingling only with those who we feel are like us? Someone mentioned to me recently that a massive advantage of Tinder is that you get to have conversations with people you would never normally meet in your day-to-day life. How’s that for a great upside for a pretty judged dating site? Meetup has the same advantage if you aren’t single.
One of key things that stop us from breaking out of a life that doesn’t rock us is the worry that we will be judged and the perception that we should be a certain way. Start to gather evidence about this quiet revolution, and then, if you choose, think about who you can converse with, who you might not have in the past, simply because you perceived them to be sitting in a different box. Who knows where it might lead?!
By the way, I have been enjoying the one on one sessions which I am offering until the end of February. Normally unavailable, this is a great way to get clarity on your value and to work out what might be a very useful and rewarding project to focus on this year. Contact me if you would like to find out more!