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An Open Letter To The 21st Century Society

An Open Letter To The 21st Century Society

Dear society,

Today I would like to talk to you – the craftsman who are providing the pioneers of tomorrow with the tools to take this world on headstrong and make it better for the generations to follow. How far do you really think we have come in the 21st century?

It has been for a while now that I have seen what we are truly capable of, what we have always been capable of: War, genocide, animal cruelty, child abuse, inequality due to gender and race and many other atrocities that, in order to list them it would take me until the next Olympics – that is, if I am lucky enough. It seems as if William Golding had it right when he wrote Lord of the Flies with the intention of making it clear that mankind is and will always be torn between two opposing forces: Savagery vs Civilization.

Many, including myself have hoped that with light carriers such as Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama; and the warriors such as Gloria Steinmann, Marian Wright Edelman, Harry Hay and Roy Wilkins – that we have learned to move past all that has divided us, all that has chained and oppressed us. However, with the latest look at the shocking statistics of bullying, I see this is not the case.

Bullying is the root of our problems

In comparison to all the other problems humanity face, bullying might seem small and insignificant, when in fact, it is the core of it all.

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The Free Dictionary defines bullying as: “A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people.”

Stopbullying defines it as: “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”

Yet, the notion that it is only the small, weak and young who are bullied has long since been demolished and it has spread to wider waters where anyone out there swimming against the stream with individualism or liberation, anyone who defies the societal rules that mankind has used to bar others in, are threatened and abused.

When did we sink so low?

My frustration of this stems from a recent incident that has happened in South Africa, where a lady (married I might add) felt the need to spice up her sex life and send her husband a picture of her genitals. Unfortunately she sent it to her child’s Sports Moms group message – and some “lady”, who most likely likes attention and wanted to have the approval in the form of laughter from her husband and friends, – deemed it fit to publish it on social media for all the world to see.

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An honest mistake from her part – and no, I am not talking about the spicy selfie – ends up ruining the life of a family who no longer can show their faces anywhere. All of this because one person felt the need to feel empowered and accepted by humiliating another.

When did we sink this low? When did the downgrading of someone start bringing us the pleasure of being in a superior position to others and in on the latest scandal with no thought as to how this can drastically change the life of the person that we are bullying?

Don’t give in to being someone you’re not

Have we stopped a moment to consider the lethal ripple effect of our actions? The ripple effect of choosing to stomp someone down in the ground for being a liberated individual – something we wish we could be, but are too cemented in the system of trying to impress those around us with our looks, possessions and wit to even try and become our true selves.

Why do we find it so easy to contribute to the low self-esteem of others, to their depression, their suicide thoughts and attempts, their fears and anxieties, their disorders and their rage? No wonder we are in one of the worst global situation that mankind has ever seen. We are filled with hate and prejudice; with selfish desires and no thought as to what I could do to help my fellow brother or sister.

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To you who read this and have experienced the persecution, oppression, torment and abuse of another. I apologize on behalf of all those who deemed it fit to break you down because your power of individuality scared them. My advice to you is to stay strong, do not let the world break you, tame you and shape you into something you were never born to be. I urge you to look at all the other individuals who refused to succumb to society and became successful and inspirational individuals.

Individuals such as David Bowie, who Billboard deemed the “Rebel who changed the face of music,” and Lady Gaga a unique and visionary girl that was bullied, rejected and made feel like a “freak” in school, later considered one of Time Magazines 100 most influential People in the World. There is a wonderful article on Lady Gaga’s triumph by Esperanza magazine I would encourage you to read.

Change is near

Did you know you have the ability to help and inspire people? That you have the ability to be a blessing? Do not sacrifice that opportunity by allowing those who do not understand you, to change you. I apologize that we have become a society that feeds on the defeat of others and that we have become to self-involved to even notice it or care.

To those who have been partakers in the ongoing battle of the bullies, or even just those who have merely been the straight-laced observers of the injustices that take place: Your time of abuse, ignorance and of being nonchalant is coming to an end. It might not be today, nor tomorrow – but it is coming.

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There will be a generation that will stand up like all the other freedom fighters mentioned above and fight for the oppressed and afflicted, a generation that chooses acceptance over prejudice, and a generation that chooses love above hate. It won’t start off as something big – it will be the small refreshing breeze that makes you aware of its presence and you will feel it gently, yet deliberately change into something bigger, stronger – a gale that brings about a tropical storm.

As Marjane Satrapi says in her Vogue interview with Emma Watson: “The only thing that can change the world is the slow evolution of culture.”

This evolution is approaching – it starts with those willing to stand up, change themselves for the better and fight for the abused.

I leave you with more words from the inspirational Marjane Satrapi: “From now on I’m going to change myself, and if I change myself, I have changed a little bit of this world. I will try to be a better person.”

I hope and pray that we all will start being better people, people whose intrinsic nature stem out of love – it is the only way we will be able to build a better tomorrow for ourselves and the generation to follow.

Featured photo credit: Rachal Baran via inspirationde.com

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Bianca Gouws

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

Reference

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