The UK today is a ‘liberal’ society. Diversity is accepted. Equal marriage is law (with the exception of Northern Ireland). Being LGBT is celebrated. So why are we starting to look and sound the same as our ‘straight’ friends, neighbours and colleagues? In a society this ‘liberal’ why are we all flocking to the heteronormative? Fast tracked ambition, weddings, children and possibly (probably) divorce.
We are living in the same little boxes we so desperately wanted to get out of when we were growing up in suburban Britain. Some of us are even wearing the same chinos as our fathers, this time round they’re Autograph not Blue Harbour though...
ASSIMILATE AND DISAPPEAR
Acceptance has taken on the form of assimilation. It’s ok to be different as long as you are in essence the same. As long as you dream the same dream. As long as you wear the same shoes. And as long as you only apply glitter at festivals.
Work and all its trappings are turning down our voices. We are quietly being pushed into a new closet, one full of pin striped suits and size 9 brogues. The result is a qualified peace. Happiness is bought in shopping malls and department stores at the end of every month. Two weeks in Sitges recharges our corporate motivation and we return to work browner, silent once again.
My own corporate career was dogged by trying to look right and wear the correct clothing. What’s business casual anyway? Desperately trying to fit into the club, thinking that an accent colour was all I needed to allow myself my own unique voice, my own diversity. But this stifling of me, by me, and aided by the homogenous world around me, was too fragile to last - cracks appeared and became chasms. Something had to give and I had to speak out. My father’s death showed me how precious my life is.
My drive to actually live my life was ignited.
I need full expression. I need to leave the old story behind and step into who I want to be. Show up how I want to be seen. Speak in a voice that I want others to hear. For me the pinstripe was changed for breton, and Doc Martens replaced the brogues. Starting to step into the diversity I want to take out into the world. Be the change I want to bring.
THE SECOND COMING (OUT)
So, if a loved one dies. Or we are made redundant. Or both. Life’s brevity hits us hard. Meaning falls out of what we thought we wanted and we find that our identity has disappeared in the ensuing rubble. Piff! Paff! Puff!
To build back, to fill our wardrobes with clothes we actually want to wear, we have to find our voices once again. Find our new story. Take back our breathing space. It is almost like a second coming out, but this time we are learning how to be us. Somewhere along the way we forgot the power of who we are and decided to live the life less ordinary.
You can stay in the easy, comfortable existence or you can chose to inhabit the dreams you once dared to dream. I chose to dream big and live life.
We are all at a place of conscious choice. I know you will make yours count.
OVER TO YOU
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I coach people who struggle with anxiety, who yearn to live a fulfilling life but feel trapped or at a crossroads so that they can experience a calmer more purposeful life. If this sounds like you, get in touch here.