As a child, I had already felt different. But I chose to conform. Up until my adult life.
I was concerned with how others would perceive me. I didn’t want to be labeled as ‘weird.’ I wanted to be accepted. Approved.
Filling my unmet childhood need for approval and acceptance was my long-standing dysfunctional unconscious behavioral pattern.
Until I realized that I was living for others. To please them.
I was playing by other people’s rules. Their terms.
I was living their truth, not mine. And it was so draining. Constricting.
1998 was a turning point in my life. At around this time 20 years ago, I had a health-related wake-up call which started my healing and transformational journey.
I began making the unconscious conscious. I realized I wanted the freedom to live my truth and my truth only.
It was a slow process. A lot of back and forth. Three steps forward, two steps back.
I learned to overcome my tendency to seek external validation. I’m now able to quickly catch myself before I even get sucked into the familiar energy dynamics.
There are times, still, when I find myself entangled in the drama, but I’m able to get out of it — much quicker and with much certainty.
Thankfully, I now live life according to my preferences. My terms. My rules.
And it has been most liberating!
If I don’t like something, I don’t choose it. No pressure. I don’t have to explain anything to anyone.
I took the long and winding road before I finally embraced my being a full-fledged nonconformist. It took a lot of courage, strength, and trust.
Oh, being a maverick is so rewarding and freeing! It feels so light and right!
But as with any choices, even traditional ones, nonconformity has its good points and disadvantages.
I wish it’s as simple as “This is who I AM. Take it or leave it, ” and people leave me be.
Often, they don’t.
I’m sure other mavericks wish people can just let us be. Leave us alone to our eccentricities.
To choose differently and choose only that which suits our preferences, personal values, and principles — I find that to be the easy part. The not having to explain to others isn’t as easy. It can, at times, get quite annoying!
I know it is universal for people to question — and judge and condemn — those whose choices and lifestyles are different from the majority. From what’s considered ‘normal.’ (This is why I can so relate and have so much empathy and compassion for the LGBQT+ community.)
I know such isn’t unique to the Filipinos.
But believe me when I say that such behavior is so much more predominant in the Filipino society than other cultures.
The Filipino value of allegiance to “pakikisama” (comradeship) and “pakikiisa” (solidarity) gets in the way of the Filipino’s being respectful and accepting of those who choose differently.
It continues to baffle me how, for a country with 72 dialects, the Filipino can be so intolerant — ignorant? — of diversity! [Oh, but the Filipino can be so accepting of the diverse lifestyle and choices of foreigners. Of any race other than their fellow countrymen.]
I face that in my daily living, and it could get quite frustrating and distressing!
Couple the Filipino’s lack of tolerance for diversity with their cluelessness in respecting personal boundaries, mavericks like me are sure to be bombarded with intrusive and invading energies, whew!
It is one reason I have become so much more of a recluse — aside from the fact that I do prefer and am content with my company.
I enjoy being alone than socializing all day long. My solitude is essential to my well-being — and sanity!
But in a group-oriented culture as the Philippines, solo living is sure to elicit quizzical reactions.
It’s also a Filipino cultural thing to ask personal questions — age, place of residence, source of livelihood, marital status (“Why did you not get married?”), number of children (“Why did you choose not to have children?“) — even if you’ve just met and under very casual circumstances!
How does the probing come about?
Well, make the ‘mistake’ of smiling at strangers, and the average Filipino misinterprets that as an invitation for them to come closer — literally and otherwise — and start probing into your personal lives.
Add to that, the cultural value of “hiya” (shame). To people please. That translates to the Filipino’s inability to say no. That equates to being expected to answer every and any question. To not respond is to be perceived as being rude.
What they don’t realize is it is their nosiness that IS rude behavior. Well, how can they see their prying as rude when being nosy about other people is acceptable and considered the norm?
Oh, it sure can get quite annoying!
Thankfully, I’m no longer as affected as before. I don’t know, though, when the time will be when I wouldn’t be fazed by the prying — at all. When I’d be able to let the nosiness slide off my back like water on a duck’s back.
What helps lessen my irritation is reminding myself of the ‘higher reason.’
My soul chose the Philippines as my country of origin because it provides the perfect environment for me to master self-acceptance.
To stay true to myself.
To express myself however way suits me.
To no longer be concerned with how others perceive me and overcome and transcend my unmet childhood need for acceptance and approval.
To be the deviant that I AM meant to be — be it, I’m in the Philippines or elsewhere in the world.