Square Peg

I always try to focus forward ( never straight Mr. Norman );  but I was doing some manual labor yesterday…

As my mind was not occupied on a coding or sysadmin type task it wandered back over 40 years of memories. Contrary to popular opinion I am human, so I did experience the at least semi toxic nostalgia that comes from looking back. I was struck, however, by something else that has stuck with me now for the last 24 hours.

I am getting to the age where if I remember an idea for 24 hours it is important. 

I woke up this morning thinking about it again, so I decided it was blog post worthy.  Which means it is just a little more important than a tweet, and worth about as much. I was thinking how much happier everyone would have been throughout my life if I was just allowed to be me.  

I am not saying that any of my bad behavior should have been tolerated. I am not saying I was right about everything ( or anything! ).  I am saying that the periods of my life when I have been the most miserable, and made the life of those around me miserable, was when my square peg ass was being forced ( with varying degrees of success ) into the round holes everyone else seemed built for.

Whether it was school, family, romantic relationships, team sports, career – this theme holds true across the entire spectrum of life. 

  • When I was encouraged to be creative and felt free to be myself, I flourished.
  • When I was appreciated for the good things I brought to the table instead of being negged because I was not the embodiment of someone else’s vision of what I should be, I excelled.
  • When I was subject to the cookie cutter, assembly line, round hole world where I was expected to conform; I rebelled and was admittedly generally unpleasant.

This sounds very selfish, that is not the part of this that is interesting to me.  

I am not for “being woke” as it is prescribed by its progenitors and most ardent practitioners. I am, 100% for, letting people be who they are.  Even if I don’t understand it or agree with it. As long as they are not actually hurting anyone else * – I want everyone to be their true selves.

This often plays out in the media and IRL as it pertains to someone’s sexuality. I assert that it is just as common in other situations as well.  Whether you are a father of a gifted and passionate painter and are pressuring her or him to go to law school, or the mother of a math savant who is forcing her child to play team sports – you are setting yourself up for disappointment and setting your child up for failure.  It can set up a situation where everyone is miserable.

Often this happens with the best of intentions.  Fifty years ago it was much harder for a gay person in their daily lives then it is today.  As parents it would have been correct to say “your life will be easier if you act straight”. It would not have been right. 

It’s easier to sign your kid up for tee-ball then it is to find out what they are genuinely interested in. It is not, however, a recipe for happiness.

I want LGBTQIA people to be able to by guns and weed with crypto currency.

The point of this barely intelligible commentary is that if we want a happy society we ( the royal we ) need to let people be free to be themselves. As long as they are not hurting anyone else.  The non aggression principle ties into this very neatly.  

I understand that for parents this represents a very thin line between forcing your child to do certain things or “be” a certain way and guiding them through life so that they can become successful adults.  I am certainly not an expert on anything ( outside of some specific computer things ) and parenting is no exception.  I have great kids in spite of all the mistakes I have made. 

But I do know that if you encourage your children, your employees, your friends and family, etc. and accept who they are, even if you don’t necessarily agree, everyone will be happier.  Forcing people to hide who they really are can have disastrous consequences.

*Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

— Playground Logic

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