I was thinking about conformity and happiness today. Talking with my sister, we acknowledged how often we feel alone and as if we don’t fit in, and how we feel sad too. But she reminded me that the propensity for sadness is in us regardless, and is not due to non-conformity. One of my sons is a different child, and I know he will struggle. My goal is to help him love himself while struggling, and help him modulate his anxiety in healthier ways than disrupting class.
There are people in this world who are touched with darkness* and those who are not. Call it what you will, but I can generally feel it and sense it in people. The more difficult of my sons has it, but the younger one seems to not have it.
People who do not understand what it is to be “touched by darkness” often have little patience for those of us who do. We are told to snap out of it, to cheer up, to learn to fit in, to learn to get along in the world.
What people do not understand is that in many ways, the darkness comes from seeing the world EXACTLY as it is, and lamenting over the fact that nothing we do will change that. We take this as a tragedy and a personal failing, and often struggle to want to remain in this world.
A friend gives examples of what we hear: ”Why are you always so miserable? Why do you get upset so easily? Why can’t you just be happy? Stop getting worked up over things that don’t matter!” ”Just relax! Everything is fine!”
It can be soul shattering to hear those things – because we know the suffering that is going on, and we know we can’t stop it.
What people like me have to learn to do is to take our joy where we can find it, and learn to pretend to be normal to not scare the normal folk.
But inside, we are still just as touched by darkness as we always were. We have just learned to only share it with those who understand.
*I used to think this was basically code for mental illness, and while it certainly can mean that, I also think it signifies a heightened sensitivity and sense of empathy.