How many times have you been told that what you’re doing is all wrong? I know that I have been told this my whole life and like a fucking twonk I’ve gone and listened to them.
I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to pursue a career in something creative so I stayed away from those subjects in college and that made me unhappy. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t enjoy reading thrillers or romance because that is trashy literature, so I stuck to more critically acclaimed work and bored myself to death. I was told that liking Britney Spears meant that I had no taste in music.
But who exactly is it that is making up all of these rules? There are tonnes of people out there who work as artists and writers and they make a perfectly decent living so why couldn’t I have tried for a career in that field? Sure, it might have been a bit risky in the beginning but at least I would have been doing something I enjoyed. Same thing goes for the music and the books that I read. There are tonnes of people out there who consume these things so why can’t I?
The difference between them and me is that they were willing to take that risk and possibly look silly. If somebody embarks on a career as an illustrator and then they don’t get a single client they may have to go and get that office job with their tail between their legs. But what if they do get one client? Are they willing to live on beans on toast for a month because they only have one client and not a lot of money? For most the answer will be yes. They won’t care that they have to struggle because they have the balls to stand up to everyone and say that what they are doing is fulfilling to them and they are willing to challenge themselves to achieve their goal.
Likewise the person who listens to Britney Spears without shame or reads a romance on the train without hiding the cover from fellow passengers, is the person who is getting the most out of life because they are the ones that are living their true authentic life.
And then you get people like me, who worry constantly about what people think and where I am going in life. I’ve always believed that there is a manual for life that I somehow missed receiving. I look at people in the street and wonder where they got their manual from and how they keep it together. But perhaps if I just marched to the beat of my own drum a little more then I would feel like I am in possession of a manual too.
I am an INFP personality type and I know that I struggle to go against the advice of people because I’m worried about upsetting people and causing them problems. But then I’m upsetting myself because I am naturally inclined to want to do things that are creative and childish and whimsical. Let’s face it, most INFPs are like five year old children stuck in an adult body; if we could dress in unicorn themed clothing we most definitely would!
I have heard a lot of talk about people accusing others of not reading the bible right and this really confuses me. We can apparently read the wrong books, listen to the wrong music and pursue the wrong dreams in life and now we’re being told that what we take away from our faith is wrong too. We are all so different and surely if we are going to be happy and fulfilled we should be allowed to see things from our own perspective without feeling any guilt.
The Bible is so open to interpretation that I think it’s impossible for anyone to stamp their authority on it, and I think that in doing so we are shutting out so many people who need to find love and compassion.
My favourite story was of a pastor going into a prison and speaking to inmates and they studied Matthew 21:12-13 where Jesus went into the temple and overturned the tables belonging to the merchants, setting free the doves that were being sold.
It was a fairly innocuous study session but one of the inmates was so moved that be broke down in tears. The pastor asked him why he had cried after the study and the inmate told him that he realised that following Jesus was going to set him free and he realised this because the doves had, in his mind, represented the speckled dove pills that he had sold as a drug dealer on the streets. Now, I doubt that many people interpret that passage in that way but this man did and it had such a profound effect on him that it changed his life. Surely that is the point in reading the bible and following Christ, right?
So next time somebody tells you that you’re doing it wrong think about whether you are or not. If you’re not hurting anyone and you are bringing yourself some sort of fulfilment then surely it’s right for you. If you want to make music but you have no rhythm, bang on that drum and have fun. If you want to create some art but you don’t know the difference between oils and acrylics, just do some finger painting and see what you come up with. The chances are that there will be someone out there who actually likes what you make so be weird and be really proud of it.
And the bible is just like any other piece of beautiful art. Your life and your history is going to colour what you take away from a reading of it. But, if you take away a message that is positive and good for the world around you then surely you’re entitled to that viewpoint, right?