As the years accumulate since my car accident, I do a lot of looking back, recalling the inciting incident that sent me on this path, where the journey has taken me, and the wholesale changes that have taken place. I freely admit that for a long time, I floated through life with no real goal or sense of purpose. Some of this nomadic behaviour could be attributed to a normal human response to trauma. However, I think the greater reason for those years of wandering is that that’s how long it took to reconstitute myself, sort through the rubble, salvage what was useable, and set out to make something with the remaining resources at my disposal.
Initially, my goal was simple but hard to attain: I just wanted to fit in. This is, I believe, a fairly universal goal, especially for young adults lacking community or a sense of belonging. Truth be told, I still fall into this mindset where the primary goal is to impress others based on a vague, yet generally recognized and accepted value system, and to be accepted on these terms. Thankfully, I do this less now, but I suspect part of this tendency will always be present, and that managing this is the key to navigating interpersonal communication and relationships. The problem with trying to impress others, at least for me, is that third-party value systems don’t account for people with brain damage. In general, as I noted earlier, the traits that our culture regard as worthy pursuits are, quite frankly, beyond my ability.
But I don’t really care anymore.
When I consider my perspective and values against those so prevalent in society, I come up with a new goal: instead of acquiescing to this banal and passive understanding of life, I want to raise it and present a different, richer perspective. I want to tackle the hurdles in front of me, so people can see that our fears are not always valid, and that our desires are not always valid either. I continue to plunge into the depths, the hardness of life, to reap the benefits found at the bottom, and resurface with the treasures that can be gleaned only from difficulty. I’ve come to see that my perspective is a gift, yet the conditions for receiving this gift are almost universally avoided at all costs. So I need to let people in on it, through this blog and through relationships.
I think part of our social pysche is reserved specifically for customizing to match or mirror those around us. Highlighting commonalities is the basis for decent co-existence, the starting point for any relationship, the root and purpose of all small talk. The trick is knowing where to draw the line, where to say, “This part of me is sacred, this is my essence. This is what makes me who I am, and I will not, cannot change it in the hope of raising my stock in your eyes.” For a long time, I didn’t know where that line was for me, but I’m developing a stronger sense of it now, and it’s a good place to be.