From an early age we have been confronted with a phenomenon that I call “Enwrape”. A child is born with an uninhibited freedom. Free of inhibitions and it does not make any trade-offs yet. That open-mindedness is gradually lost.
An insidious process that unfortunately many of us often unconsciously go through in their adolescence and even in their later life. The estrangement from our uninhibited freedom.
At least I did!
The ordinary people
As a child we slowly but surely become part of the ordinary people and only gradually or not at all get around to finding and developing our talents and qualities. Why is this?
We adapt to standard life. We are brought up with that idea. Just do normal, that is crazy enough. Behave yourself. Adapt. Don't be silly. Be normal for a while. Don’t do that in that way. We are also told that with some jobs you can never make ends meet. It is better to study law than to go to the conservatory. There is no time to develop your sports talent, because you have to go to school. You have to do your best to get a good job. And so on.
The ordinary people becomes more and more convined. It seems as if we are less and less free to manifest ourselves as a unique individual. We expect from each other to act normally and that normal will become worse.
Fortunately, however, there often comes a moment somewhere in our lives when we start to realize that we are alienated from our original self. A slow process then begins in which we want to know who we are and what makes us unique.
Caught in standards
Less and less space for colors and differences. We must not be different, in other words we must be as alike as possible. It starts in education and we often keep on acting in that way as adults.
There was so much that I had to do during my upbringing and so many other things that I really wanted, but that I was thwarted about. I wanted things that went against current standards. My upbringing meant that I had to learn to live a good life so that the neighborhood could not be faulted. I had to learn and perform well. Do what others expected.
I wasn't like that and still am not. I don't live an artificial life. Still I did. It started in my youth and continued for decades. That was a struggle. Regular disputes, in the family, at school, with neighbors, and so on. And never winners.
My parents and the schools have tried a lot to get and keep me in line, without a doubt with the best of intentions. But also without a doubt, without success. I wanted to do my own things so badly but had to fulfill so much that others wanted and expected of me. I isolated myself more and more because of that. I kept my distance from the others. I went my own way.
I was too young to understand then, but now I understand that I actually surrendered more and more. It was not possible to fight against so many things at once.
I no longer blame anyone. Maybe a little to myself.
Like everyone else, I wanted attention and to be understood. I wanted to be appreciated and therefore made concessions about what I wanted and what I thought about certain things. These concessions made my life with the others easier, but that is precisely why they also tempted me to make concessions more often. That has been an insidious process, I see retrospectively.
Slowly but surely I got bogged down in a graying mouse. But a gray mouse with chameleon behavior. Sometimes I was gray, sometimes completely red or blue and at other times a mouse with all colored spots. No one could follow that anymore and I became more and more isolated.
Once grown up, I was able to get out of that isolation by putting on a gray coat over my now fading colors. That gray coat was my personal wrap. I could then put on and take off that coat at the right moments. The colors under the gray coat faded further and further. Sometimes I tried to put on two coats. I let myself be wrapped up more and more.
Let me give a few examples of situations from my childhood that made my colors fade and caused me to get increasingly wrapped in. It took more and more energy to fight for what I actually wanted.
I didn't want to go to school, but I had to. Yes I know, there is the compulsory education law. It also seems necessary to me that we learn a number of basic skills, but it is poignant that there is no obligation to give children space and time to discover and develop their unique talents and qualities. Or in other words that they can do what they want to do, because what you are good at, you enjoy doing. I like to call it tailor-made education, so it focuses on each individual child.
I had to learn how to calculate. Well why not, but when I found out about thirty years later that I have severe dyscalculia, I understand why I ended up throwing a flowerpot with a plant in it at the master when he accused me of having to pay more attention, while I just tried my very best to understand the numbers, but indeed I didn't understand anything. The numbers turned or I didn't see them and couldn't know that was not normal.
Because I could not learn and because I threw flower pots to the teacher, I was transferred to a special school (for children with Learning and Parenting difficulties). There I had to continue in the same way, only slower.
Nice such a label, while you do your best. A new dent in my strong ego. A color fade again. Not a real success
One day in my teens, someone called on our door. There was a lady who I knew. She came to complain because a ball had gone through a window in her shed.
The lady told my mother that she had seen me at her house. Well that could be true. I had indeed cycled past the shed that afternoon and confirmed that. Because I did not like to play football at all, I also told that I had not played football there.
Nobody believed me and my mother told the lady she would come back to it. She wanted to discuss it with my father. That night I was cross-examined, and the outcome could only be that I had to apologize to that lady.
I did not want to accept that and I refused. I ended up being taken to the house with the broken barn window almost literally by my ear. There at the door I just said that I had not played football there, but had cycled past. So exactly as it went.
I have known the consequences. Another faded tan and a broken confidence.
Playing the guitar
I started playing the guitar when I was twelve. Hours per day. I put in every minute. Sometimes I studied 12 hours a day. But I was thwarted because my parents felt that I would not get enough sleep and that I would not be fit enough for school. Still, I persisted. Learned many beautiful and difficult parts. “She” still sits on your lap now and then.
Maybe I could have been encouraged to develop the talent? Anyway, missed opportunity.
In my youth I played gymnastics for a long time and apparently there was a talent in me, because I was eventually asked by the gymnastics school if I wanted to train for the Dutch championships.
My parents didn't think it was a good idea, because I already had such difficulties at school and in education. Another missed opportunity.
And so on
There are so many examples. I can make it into a catalog. But every example is then more of the same. This kind of thing made me more and more wrapped up in limitations.
There were more and more rules and less and less free choices. Rules imposed by others from a belief or from a persuasion, rules at school, rules at work, etc. Rules of conduct, custom rules. And by far the most dangerous rules are those that we impose on ourselves over time. When we change our behavior because of expectations others have of us.
Together we create “The normal” that you better stick to, because otherwise you will be addressed or rejected by the group. And in this way we become more and more alienated from our original and unique self. The result is a loss of freedom, open-mindedness and thus a loss of creativity and inspiration.
In my youth I was not given enough space to find my talents. As a result, it took me many years into my adulthood to unwrap my wraps, then rediscover and develop my talents. To go on with developing myself.
I am convinced that I am not the only one with whom this happened. I meet people with a similar stories. It is such a waste of time and a lot of talent is lost.
Children are colorful
I therefore argue for unlimited development space for children. Children are colorful and they should be given opportunities. Discover where their talents lie and where they can develop. Prevent them from wrapping up in childhood and eventually putting on that gray coat of mine.
They are the hope for the future. The upcoming performers, artists, writers and poets. Creative, controversial, recalcitrant, just different and yet very normal. We need these people to make the world a better place
And us adults? Wouldn't we rather untwist all our own wraps and find our freedom and vulnerability as we had it as a child?
Get rid of those wrappers from the past. No more accepting new wraps. We can still feel free to be unique. Who cares if others disagree with you or think you are weird?
My personal gray coat
I have now changed course. It had been coming for years, but I didn't know what it was all about yet. Here in Malta I took off my personal gray coat forever and threw it away. Not that all my colors are back now, but I am no longer afraid to show my strengths and weaknesses.
And my painter's palette is richly filled and I mix the most beautiful colors and want the brightness of all colors completely back. Those colors that faded in my youth.
I felt like the black sheep, but I was actually the colored sheep. I was taught that being a fur sheep would not work in my favor. What a huge misunderstanding! It can now be so evident that it was and still is one of my core qualities.
Now I don't compromise anymore. I am real and original. You can find anything about me, say anything about me, or write anything about me. I think it would be best if you at least tell me what you think of me. Then we start an interesting conversation.
It took me time, a lot of time, but I am still young and vital and I probably have another thirty years to manifest myself colorfully. So pay attention, you will hear from me again.
© TrefMij August 2020