Every soul born on this mortal plane was born to live a life that is unique. Yet every time we choose to follow our hearts or do what our gut tells us to do, we are instantly met with resistance in the form of “well-wishers” who are uncomfortable with our choices and free will.
Because we are human.
The Greatest Flaw of Humanity
We wish to be magnificent at the price of others remaining hopeless sheep so that we can tower over them and crow in pride. And it takes experience and many reality checks to understand that this desire to be superior is just a ploy to cover the inadequacy we feel inside:-
We feel inadequate because we think people will not accept us if we stray from the norm (even if it makes us miserable).
We feel inadequate because we mask our real selves and live fake lives to please people (so that we do not have to deal with their uncomfortable judgements).
We feel inadequate because we know our lives are slipping past us like grains of sand while we fail to fulfil our destiny.
And just because we feel inadequate, we immediately offer resistance when we see someone courageously step out of the box and be great. So we tell them they might fail if they take risks. We beseech them to return to their mundane lives (the life we are used to seeing them in).
Because if they fly, they show us that we can too. If only we had the courage to take a chance…
How Muay Thai Helped Me Unbox Myself
I have always wanted to learn to fight. But I was never allowed to because all my life I have been good at studies and was encouraged to learn the milder arts that go along with that image.
What I did not realize was that this conditioning was a subtle way of boxing me into a nerd. And what is it that nerds don’t do? They don’t play games or learn martial arts.
And this stereotyping was extremely complex:-
I am a girl. And girls don’t fight.
Because a few thousand years ago some idiot decided that it would ruin their womanly charms, and that it was better for women to rely helplessly on the muscles of men (who may or may not choose to protect them).
Add to this the stereotype created by my education (the stereotype of a doctor who heals and never harms) and you have a society that kept asking me to deny the warrior in my soul.
But as they say – what is destined will always find its way. And I found Muay Thai.
One of the biggest challenges we face in life, along with the ones that drain our optimism and drag us through hell fire, are the moments when we are faced with the decision to go after our heart’s desire or quail in fear and let it slip through. Finding Muay Thai was one of them.
On one hand I had this beautiful new thing in my life that was fueling the fire in my soul, and on the other hand I had people telling me that I was wasting my time when I needed to study to become a surgeon.
And what does a boxed person do when faced with such a dilemma?
They can choose to keep cruising at 5mph speed, never taking any risks and toeing the line drawn around them, or they can choose to break out and live a real life of passion and fulfillment.
For two months I allowed myself to be the former by restricting myself to learning Muay Thai once a week because I had enough excuses to go no further.
I never paid attention to the fact that every week I would eagerly wait for that one day and afterwards would feel a mix of euphoria and sadness because the hour was up and the next hour was six days away.
And I probably would have remained boxed if the desire in my soul – to be true to myself – had not overwritten the excuses in my head.
Because that is what being real is all about.
Signs of the Real You (as opposed to Fake You):-
- You are honest with yourself and the world.
- You know what you desire and what you don’t, and are not afraid to go after it.
- You don’t mindlessly agree or disagree with an argument simply because everyone else is doing so. You have your opinions and are okay with others not agreeing with them.
- You take chances when it feels right in the gut even if everyone else tells you it is a foolish pursuit.
- You know that you don’t know everything. Nobody does. And so you seek answers with absolute peace.
- You are unafraid of being flawed because you know everyone is. And so you admit them and overcome them in time.
- You know another’s victory does not mean your defeat.
- You know that nobody can make you a spectator in your own life without your permission because you understand free will.
- You know that life is an endless cycle of hardships and peace, and therefore, you rise up to the challenge like a fighter, not a powerless victim.
- You show your real self because it does not make you vulnerable (contrary to popular belief). Instead, your unflinching acceptance of your self and nothing-to-hide attitude makes you resilient to low blows.
Living a life of pretenses and excuses is living a life within a box. It is only when we embrace our true self that we realize that the box never existed.
Unfortunately, for every real person you meet in the world, there are at least a hundred boxed pretenders trying to bring them down.
The Difference between True Well-Wishers and Those Who Secretly Wish Our Downfall
Every time we try to break stereotypes and live our lives as souls with infinite potential we find two kinds of people on our path.
The first kind, or what I call “True Well-Wishers”, either inspire us through their own unboxed natures, or offer us words of encouragement because we inspire them to bravely unbox themselves.
True well-wishers give us reality checks. They show us that life can be difficult when you are trying to live true to yourself. But they do so in a way that propels us to courageously face the future rather than become disheartened and plop right back into the comfort of routine.
The second kind, what I call “False well-wishers”, either pretend to encourage us (although their jealousy and falsity always shows through) or outright ask us to drop the foolish pursuit and put the sheep wool back on.
All of us have been the second kind to someone, but you only get to be the first (true well-wisher) when you learn to embrace all of you and be real.
Makes for a nifty litmus test, doesn’t it?
From One Box to Another: Why People Will Still Try to Stereotype the Real You
Although learning Muay Thai doesn’t change the fact that I wish to be a surgeon and an author, it does throw stereotypes out of the window:-
I am a nerd who is athletic, a pretty girl who can beat the crap out of a punching bag, and a kind doctor who can hurt another and make them bleed if the fight is justified.
And what do people do when you break stereotypes?
They try boxing you right back in.
Now my acquaintances no longer address me as “the writer”. I have become “the Muay Thai fighter” to them. And they either playfully ask me not to beat them up or mischievously ask me to show my “new mad skills” on some class boy. Some have even asked me snidely if I wish to become the next Mary Kom.
While all these attempts to box me again are amusing, the interesting bit is that it makes one thing very stark – people are afraid of change. And they will go to any lengths to box you right back in to escape the discomfort of having to wrap their heads around your unpredictable and surprising newness.
It Takes Courage to Be Real
Everyone spouts merry words of “living outside the box”, “thinking outside the box”, blah blahing outside the box, but few follow what they preach.
Because it takes courage to break out of the box.
It takes courage to live a life that is real when doubt creeps up on us. And it always does. That comes with the territory of being human.
It takes an extraordinary amount of wisdom to withstand repeated stereotyping and know that each and every one of us is never just one thing.
I know what my life’s calling is, and it is not to be a ring fighter, a canvas painter or a Tarot card reader. Nevertheless, I am real enough to explore all my interests because I know who I am, and who I am is too vast to be boxed by anyone.
Because the truth is: each and every one of us is self-obsessed and all we do all day long is ruminate over ourselves and what is affecting us. Even when we think about another or gossip about another, we say things that reflect our thought patterns and how we believe the world should be.
That’s why it is useless to worry about people judging or stereotyping you. They will judge and box. Oh yes, they will! But they will forget about you as soon as you are out of sight and go right back to worrying about their lives and their dreams.
Do you really want to waste away faking and pleasing people who aren’t even thinking about you?
Or do you want to own your power, be free and real?