Essays · Life & Stuff · Mental Health

Embracing Life’s Spectrum: Living Free

We can free ourselves by thinking less black and white. Less us and them. Less “you are or you aren’t“. Because life should be lived on a spectrum. And this spectrum both sets us free and connects us…

 

Personality & Identity

We are never fully formed. People will have you believe that once you reach adulthood, that’s it. You are the person you were meant to be, in that your personality is formed.

I disagree.

We are all capable of change. We all grow and experience new things and meet new people that influence who we are, what we do, and how we think. This then leads to changes in our personality and identity.

By viewing who we are as a spectrum, we free ourselves from believing that there are certain things we should or shouldn’t do – according to our personality or identity. We free ourselves from assumptions (about ourselves or others) and allow ourselves to grow and change without resistance.

You’re not wholly either an introvert or an extrovert, for example; we all sit on the spectrum. We are all somewhere on the line, and that connects us to one another and to traits that we usually think have nothing to do with us.

Over time, the percentages change and our place on the line shifts.

 

Gender

Why can’t people get their head around the fact that gender is a made up social idea? Like everything in our world, gender was made up one day. Someone decided, Penis = Man, Vagina = Woman, and then they attached a bunch of bullsh*t traits and tendencies that go along with them.

Instead, if we simply see gender as a spectrum, we can begin to free ourselves from social norms or expectations. We can stop saying that anyone with a penis shouldn’t wear a dress. Or that anyone with a vagina can’t wrestle professionally. (Or some other stupid gender normative idea).

So, if someone feels they should have a vagina, but they weren’t born with one, who are we to say they’re wrong? If someone was born with a vagina but they feel like wearing shaved hair, trousers, and a sports t-shirt, who are we to say that’s weird?

How one chooses to look, or how one chooses to act, should not be up for discussion. Simple.

Our genitalia does not come with an instruction manual on how to dress, self-express, have sex, or behave.

Gender does not exist, really. It’s just an idea, so why can’t we all just live and decide on that idea to suit our own values and needs? That’s a freeing thought to me.

 

Sexuality

I’ll admit, when I was younger, I used to think that you’re either gay or you’re not. That you will one day understand which way you swing! But over the last few years, I’ve realised how silly that is. Sexuality is not, and will never be, so simple.

I’m not saying that one year you might be gay, and the next you’re hetero, and the next you’re asexual. I’m saying that your sense of sexuality is fluid and moving and alive just as you are.

The closest label that I could give myself is bi-curious. Because I’m in a relationship (committed, sexual, life partner etc.) with a cisgender male, which makes me heterosexual/ straight, right? But I also like some women; I find them attractive. I’m not sure exactly how I like them, or whether I’d enjoy a sexual experience with a woman, but the thoughts are there.

But the point is, I don’t need to know, and neither do you.

I think simply seeing your sexuality as a spectrum helps remove labels and limitations and expectations and assumptions. It just says, “I like who I like, simple!” And how freeing and uncomplex is that? Sounds good to me, I’ll take it!

 

Skills and talents

Everyone, listen up! Stop saying, “I’m not good at INSERT THING HERE” because this statement (said aloud or internally) is limiting your abilities. It is this statement, and this statement alone, that is making you bad at something.

You may not be naturally talented at something. It may take you longer to do something than it takes others. BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN’T DO IT!

Repeat: That does not mean you can’t do it!

Our abilities are also on a spectrum. It’s not that we either can do something or we can’t. It’s not that you’re either amazing at something or awful at it. There’s a whole long spectrum. And this means that you can move up and down the spectrum throughout your life.

The only thing stopping you is how you think and how you act. A change in mindset could set you free and allow you to finally do what you want to do (but once thought you couldn’t).

Always thought that you were bad at Maths? You’re only bad because you decided that you are! Change the language!

 

Emotions

I believe that thinking about our emotions as a spectrum is freeing and cool, too. That at any given point in time, we’re not either sad or happy, we’re on a spectrum with them both, always.

When you feel happy, it’s because your Happiness Spectrum cursor is sitting at the far end of Happiness. You’re 80% Happy, let’s say, but that also means you’re 20% not Happy. This means that you needn’t be afraid or angry at yourself when you’re Sad, because when you’re 80% Sad, you may also be 20% not Sad.

* Sadness is not the opposite of Happiness and vice versa. I don’t think emotions have opposites like this, really. Instead, I see it like this:

NOT HAPPY —————MID—————— HAPPY

NOT SAD ——————MID——————– SAD

NOT JEALOUS ————-MID—————- JEALOUS

NOT AFRAID ————–MID—————- AFRAID

NOT ANGRY ————-MID—————— ANGRY

(And so on…)

This is why it can sometimes be hard to explain how you feel. Because sometimes you’re not happy but you’re not not-happy, either. This is because you’re sitting somewhere on the spectrum of happiness instead, alongside feeling a percentage of other emotions, too.*

Throughout our day, we move up and down the spectrums of our emotions. We are never trapped in a set state. We are never wholly feeling just one emotion. As adults, we are complex beings who feel a lot of things all at once.

Accepting the spectrum for what it is and what it means feels calming to me, because it seems so much easier to sit on a spectrum, sliding up and down, than it does to feel like I must force a change in emotion. Right?!

 

Relationships

Again, we can sometimes find it hard to describe a relationship with someone because connections with people are like a spectrum, too. A spectrum of love, caring, admiration, respect, trust, enjoyment, and kinship.

As adults, our relationships with people become more complex. It’s not a case of whether a person is a friend or not. They sit on a spectrum. They can move up and down the spectrum as life goes on depending on these things:

  • How they make you feel
  • What they do for you (what they bring into your life) and vice versa
  • How much time or energy you give to the relationship
  • How in-line your values are
  • The energy that they share with you and bring into your space
  • And so on…

When we try to define our relationships less often, and simply concentrate on how a person makes us feel, we free ourselves from expectations, labels, assumptions, and pain, too.

 

Health

This shouldn’t warrant much explanation. Our health is also a spectrum. We’re not either ill or well. The health of our bodies and minds is all on a spectrum. If it leans more one way or another, that is where you will see a difference.

Thinking about our health in this way will wake us up to the fact that any health advice that is given to us (for physical or mental health) is not to be ignored just because we see ourselves as “healthy”.

We can all be healthier, and we are all vulnerable to different sicknesses and health decline.

Free yourself and ensure that you take care of your health by seeing it as a spectrum that is constantly shifting.

 

Intelligence

You’re not simply smart or stupid, there’s a whole lot of middle ground in-between! Don’t condemn yourself into believing that you’re stupid or that you can never better your knowledge or intellect over time.

Plus, there are many ways to measure intelligence other than grades and schooling, don’t forget that. Emotional Intelligence is a fairly new thing that is a very powerful way to measure intellect in a way many don’t realise, for example.

“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live it whole life believing it’s stupid!”

 

Growth

Oprah says in her book What I Know For Sure, “If we are really committed to growth, we never stop discovering new dimensions of self and self-exploration.

I find that beautiful. I find it beautiful because that statement is full of hope, prosperity, possibility, and freedom of self. It means you needn’t ever be fully-formed in any way. It means you will, again as Oprah says, “eternally grow in and out of yourself” and that just blows my mind and gives a real sense of comfort…

 

Seeing life in this way has helped to open my mind and free myself. It means there’s nothing that I can’t be or can’t do. It means I’m never wholly one thing or another. We are all on the spectrum which connects us and frees us to do and be just about anything we desire.

Free yourself, by thinking openly…

 

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