When the obedient decided to chase after freedom

I think there is an important life lesson I really really need to log down. I have always been the obedient child. But I can see that it is toxic now. I would like to change that.

The obedient do not know how to fight against the odds. The obedient care too much about what others think of them. We are too good at hiding ourselves instead of showing the world who we are. The obedient are passively aggressive because we do not like you but we pretend we do. Something shows, right?

Growing up my mom cares a lot about what I do and think. She believes everything has to be according to the social standards. That makes me sick. I am screaming ‘I am not normal’ but no one hears that. Most of the friends were too busy trying to please their parents and act ‘normal’. But I refused to accept normalcy is something humans chase after. I can see so many flaws that society will not accept in me. It is so loud in my quiet mind that I know it is impossible for me to be normal. Luckily, I was smart enough to know probably this is the state for other people in the world as well.  They just refused to accept it. I don’t know why they can’t see it, but they are good people. The end result is, back and forth I doubt myself. They say I don’t belong. They say I am marching to a lonesome defeat. But I refused to believe in the society. I refused to give up. I have given in for a long time. This tug of war is between my identity and the world in front of me. How to strike a balance and call it a win-win?

I chose myself. I became an artist. I grasped any opportunities to express myself as a person. I studied psychology and philosophy. I studied the things that constitutes normalcy from a scientific angle. I studied the so-called disabled people and read their autobiographies. I stumbled upon Carl Jung’s quotes and I think that changes everything. At the age of 14, I read about Carl Jung and for the years to come, his words painted the wall of my room and the back of my mind. In a large scale, everything I do is to preserve the selves that society wants to repress, to entertain the selves that I am scared to lose. The emotions that are running in the background, the quiet screams only those who are sensitive would notice.

However, no matter how good I am being an artist, I did not learn to use words to express my own selves in front of others. Writing is good but it is still not a direct mean to express emotions. I still shy away from expressing my own emotions to others. The idea that others will actually accept I dislike something others like is hard to take.  Adults do not like truths, they just want to conserve the superficial harmony. This is something I hate about being an adult. This is something I hate about my parents.

This was true until one day I told my colleague I got nothing to work on, and he told me that is because I have complied orders and followed instructions all my life and do not know how to find my own work.  ”Our company gives us lots of freedom, you just have to ask for permission.” He is the colleague that many others do not like because he started many things but did not manage to finish them properly. A trouble-maker. But in that moment he said those words, I was not offended. Not at all.  I think he is wise. What he said is true. I do not know how to express myself even when people allow it. People would like to see what I can offer and bring up.

It is the moment that I think the world is not working against me but with me. The feeling of ‘the world is against me’ is really hard to shake off but in that moment I turned the concept around, I can sense freedom and acknowledgment are possible in this world.

The more I work with other humans, I realised they are not really rejecting me but curious about me. They want to know I will say, they want to know what kind of surprise I will bring them. This is something never existed in my world. People in my world used to reject me because I was not following instructions. People used to show hatred and take freedom from me when I refused to obey. I lived in an authoritarian world! In the sacrifice of personal freedom, I lost interest in living but drifting into a world that no human exists. I love to draw fluffy animals and I would be the only human being in my imagination.I drifted into the world of books in search of meaning in life. I go dark. I disappeared from the reality in favor of my own reality.

Humans are extremely hard to satisfy. We all have our own ideas but only a few can articulate their ideas fully to feel understood.

Paulo Coelho said madness is the inability to communicate your ideas. It’s as if you were in a foreign country, able to see and understand everything that’s going on around you, but incapable of explaining what you need to know or of being helped, because you don’t understand the language they speak there. We’ve all felt that. And all of us, one way or another, are mad.

Maybe that’s the reason: the obedient have a hard time to get out of their own madness. They lack the skills to tell others what they need to know.

To escape that, you either allow yourself to be mad in front of others or you learn to communicate in various ways. I do both, I suppose.

Yesterday, I had a dream of being naked but I do not feel ashamed. I remember Milton Erikson once told his patient that God gives us the body and we should not be ashamed of showing her breasts in public while feeding her son; or giving out gasses. They are the miracles of human bodies. Being mad is also what humans do, there is nothing to feel ashamed of. I think ‘madman’ do it differently because they cannot choose when to do the mad things, but most of us have this choice. I started to scream when I am at home, especially when I feel life is unfair. I started to shout and growl like a dog at home or in the forest whenever I feel like it. It feels good, it helps with the release of anger I have, for myself and for this world. I am also working at a school setting and learning to communicate with students who test my boundaries and get rewards for free. It tested my ability to communicate and value their ideas and at the same time stay true to myself.

I have learnt to embrace the absurdity of human life and embrace the unconscious mechanisms that most people may not understand.The acknowledgment of personal freedom feels good, even though it may not be what you think it is. It could mean doing harmless silly things in front of others. It could mean being proactive and stand for yourself and the values you held close to your heart.

Grow a forest in your mind.

Lately, I have been crying a lot. Since I have been back to Hong Kong I felt like part of me died. Whenever I am free in my room I reminisce the days I was in England. The good old days, when I know what I was doing and what I wanted.

There have been days I dream of someone leaving me.  The dreams are like telling me, ‘There is no one else to take care of you anymore.You are on your own now.Your days in England have taught you enough to face whatever in front of you. So please be strong. Please be patient.’

Returning to Hong Kong is also like facing my old depressed self again. I go back to live with people who have once depreciated me. I go back to see the things I had once tried so hard but failed. I have learnt better but all these still hurts.

I started to build up a mental health system for myself. I look for a jogging trail, I look for healthy food, I look for inspirational and motivational people, and most of all, I look for solitude. It has been three months, I have found a jogging trail close to where I live, but I haven’t found a way to cook healthy food in this household. I have failed to find inspirational and motivational people. I felt like abandoned. I only found books, things I have once written down. I have to become my own motivation generator. Solitude is hard to find when you are living in a city and everyone is annoyed or complaining about something or someone.

From time to time I think humans aren’t meant to live in a city. Too many people are too much. Humans need personal space to be themselves. Humans need to have spaces where they can be disgusting and ugly, so they can have the space to show others their cheerful and positive sides. Hong Kong has gotten this all wrong.

I got a job working at a secondary school. The job has been meaningful but it’s not pointing me to the direction I am going. It’s a sidetrack. It’s my way to comfort my parents that I could be independent and live my own life. But it’s hard for me to accept that things aren’t alright. I need to go back to psychology and do a master. I felt stuck even though people around me are all telling me I am on the right track. It doesn’t feel that way.

I still remember the week before I left England, I was upset because I can foresee what’s upcoming. When I was jogging in the woodland trail in England.I prayed and asked God what I can do when I am surrounded by anxious people. There was silence for a long time. But then, after a long while, someone answered. A voice told me, you see the trees here? Yes, I said. Imagine yourself in this serene and peaceful setting. Come back to this place. Grow a forest in your mind. And you have it, relaxation and calmness.