Difference Rocks

Difference rocks.

It’s not easy to go against the grain of what’s accepted in society. It’s harder if you’re a woman who does her own thing.

I see things differently: that if you try something and fail, you haven’t failed; your approach has failed you. So it’s possible that when you act false to yourself to get ahead, to prove you’re normal, the outcome is ill health.

The truth will set you free is a classic expression. Yet what if the truth sets you apart from others? Then you choose how you want to live your life. You set goals and go after the things that matter to you, regardless of whether other people approve of what you want to do.

Early on, I didn’t “toe the line” when I was told the only acceptable life for me was to collect SSI checks and living in a dangerous apartment complex on the edge of town. I had the balls or breasts to try to have a better life. As I wrote in the memoir excerpt blog entry last Thursday, I went out of the frying pan of a dysfunctional mental health system into the fire of a career that was a total mismatch with my personality.

Straining against your true nature and operating in “reaction against” the illness mode is the quickest route to ill health. Face it: the illness is part of our lives. Yet trying to scrub it away and deny it exists to fit in and prove you’re normal is a no-win game. And too the only power the diagnosis has over you is the power you give it. It truly is just a part of your life, no bigger and greater than that.

As I near 50, I realize that it’s true that a lot of us feel different because we are different. The sooner each of us accepts our true nature the better off we’ll be and the stronger and healthier we’ll become in body and mind.

I covet, I respect and admire, originality–of thought, of purpose, and in who an individual is and how they live their lives.

I value and celebrate difference in a world of mindless conformity. Most people are scared to act true to themselves, to be their own person, because they fear what other people will think.

Stand tall. Be proud. I go the other way: I value and celebrate diversity because the uniqueness of the spirit of every human being on earth is precious. None of us should do things to rob others of their dignity.

Here’s the truth too: in a crowd of holey-jeans and pierced faces, you’re the rebel if you’re wearing a cashmere v neck and black pants.

So be the rebel. Be the one and only you here on earth in this lifetime.

Each of us can live to be at least 70 if not 80. That’s too long to be here and to beat on yourself for having an illness or to not like yourself. It’s too long to live on earth and to be critical of others and keep attacking them too.

As I near 50, I will continue to write in here about my impressions about living your life left of the dial.

Age hopefully brings wisdom and strength of character and confidence. A friend told me that she liked I wrote about my experiences in life. It’s true I seek to give others hope by showing them a road out of the darkness of disability and onto the exit ramp to a better future.

Difference rocks. Yes it does.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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