I blow my own mind sometimes. It sounds pompous and conceited, but I stand by my words. In my quest to see the world, experience new things, and find adventure in the most mundane places, I pulled a lot of crazy stunts, and threw myself into situations no sane person would recommend. In the process I received a lot of criticism from disagreeable friends and disapproving acquaintances, and the general consensus was that the reason I am placing myself in uncharted territory emotionally, mentally and physically, was because I am self-destructive, restless, and empty.
Not surprisingly, their assessments came with a recommendation for professional help in the form of therapy. What else do you advise someone who refuses to join the herd, follow self-help manuals, or accept analysis from highly credentialed experts on the subject of finding purpose, meaning, and satisfaction in life?
Funny how people believe that practicing anything but convention, pop psychology, and things contrary to what the experts believe, is self-destructive, and will lead you down the wrong path. I spent years arguing with friends and family, that just because I don’t want to experience life they way they do, there is nothing wrong with me. But the argument is that when a woman throws caution to the wind, disregards modesty, respectability, and decency, talks about it freely, and laughs about all her blunders, and misadventures, there must be something wrong on a psychological level.
So what! As I now crawl out of another socially unacceptable relationship, and laugh about it unscathed, I snicker at my well meaning friends, because at least I experienced something. And regardless of whether the liaison was unhealthy or pointless, it was an amusing, adventuresome fling, that didn’t have to have any meaning, purpose or relationship status. And you know what? We learn the most from experience anyway.
So, whether the experience is an inappropriate relationship, a risky business venture, or a perilous trek through a jungle, convention deters many of us from not sticking our necks out too far. I hate to say it, but as an unapologetically single woman, who is just bored with traditional relationships, I get more criticism that my male friends who do the same.
My biggest critics are the older generation, particularly older men, who are offended by my candid recounts of all my adventures, exploits and blunders.
Perhaps, it is the grounded people who seek nothing more that safety, security and stability from life who need the most professional help. They are the ones desperately clutching to convention, and when convention doesn’t serve them, they blast those of us who had the courage to step away from it. They followed all the rules, lived life according to prescription, checked off all the correct milestones on life’s itinerary, and now spend days reading self-help manuals or consulting therapists to assure themselves they have lived.
So, do you really want to know how to have your mind blown without drugs, counseling or bungee jumping down Niagara Falls? Experience life on your own terms. Does it really matter that your parents believe you should have had 2.5 kids by now, that your friends don’t approve of your latest boy-toy, that you won’t be allowed into a social clique if you haven’t accomplished the same things they have? My most mind-blowing experiences didn’t come from a guide book on adventure travel, or from following friends to Burning Man. They were much easier and accessible that what one might think.
To really have your mind blown, you simply have to shun conventional wisdom, laugh in the face of a critic, flip the proverbial bird to whoever doesn’t approve. It really is as simple as that. Because who are you if you don’t experience life? What have you learned if you constantly shield yourself from heartache, excessive risk, impropriety? What have you to add to a conversation, if like everyone else in your herd, you experienced life according to generally accepted guidelines?
Not to toot my own horn, and these experiences really weren’t as risky as one might think, but every one of my adventures traveling solo to distant places that come with travel advisory alerts, has turned out to be a life altering experience. Not because of the dangers along the way, but because I did it anyway. Every one of my crazy, inappropriate relationships helped me grow, and learn tremendously just because I didn’t worry about how it might turn out. Who decides what is proper and moral anyway? Once I learned to ignore “experts”, and warnings, I started to grow some balls that served me well in all areas of my life.
I can now confidently state that I am fearless, and it didn’t take much to become that. All it took was a willingness to take a risk, step outside of convention and realize mind blowing experiences come from plain and simple audacity, staunch independence, and believing in yourself more than you believe in your well-meaning parents.
So whether it is relationships, travel, career, or decision-making, anyone can have their mind blown simply by taking the road less traveled, taking a giant leap, and not worrying where one might land. Really, it was the mistakes that taught me the most, not all the things I did right.
Today, I am very much willing to make mistakes, and I enjoy them too. I don’t take anything too seriously, even when it is an important endeavor. I laugh at myself wholeheartedly, because life is an adventure, and if you don’t scrape your knees or break a few bones, what have you done anyway?
Have you ever met someone who doesn’t have a broken heart? I wouldn’t want to, because that is not a person anyway. We become whole, and our existence becomes meaningful by mending ourselves and rebuilding our lives, not by playing it safe or following tradition. Really, it was when I broke tradition that I truly started to live.