This article was originally written by mayryanna for an online project called Naturally Subversive three years ago.
What does it mean to be fundementally revolutionary? How can this exist safely in a world so properly versed when it inherently represents subtext and innuendo? How does it survive when its very existence is considered an act of violence against the reigning standard?
A Tradition of Lies
We’re all familiar: turn on the television, glance at your smart phone or in a shop window and the “ideal” is readily available to be seen. It looks sleek, it looks put together and successful, it seems desirable (after all people are literally lining up to to try and emulate the latest trends like they’ll never go out of style), but what’s really going on here? Our world isn’t so cookie-cutter-esque when you think about it, at least, not naturally.
The Ugly, Imperfect and Unique Truths
Long before the iPhone or Apple’s crazed die-hard followers, back before even Amazon and Ebay allowed you to get your hands on anything you thought you could want, and even further still to before print media and advertisements, people existed and were found to be desirable, even valuable to one another. But how could this be? We know from being inundated with flashy images and panic inducing FOMO (fear of missing out) that you can’t possible be a worthwhile individual without being in on (read: buying into) the latest trends right!? When we look at modern culture through any lens other than that of lack and consumerism we begin to notice the cracks in it’s meticulously painted frame; could it really be that we’re all just humans trying our best to adapt and survive?
What persists in nature is what ultimately changes and grows to meet evolutionary demand. We’re not alone in the existence stuff, even if we’ve forgotten that as of late, and in reality, life is only possible because of the diversity is boasts. Sure, we like to think we could live without plants or animals (at least we act like it), and we like to think that humans are the greatest thing to ever evolve, but really we’re a bit disillusional. The truth is, we didn’t get this far on our own and we won’t make it much further if we insist on going solo now. How does this relate to the so-called “successes” of our modern age? Well, what good is Steve Jobs without the Apple army? How much business would Amazon and Ebay do without the online shopping addicts? In reality, we’re all involved in a symbiotic relationship with the rest of existence and the choices we make will always contribute to our experiences. So, responsibility being ours, how exactly did we find ourselves in this mess of inauthenticity?
Taking Back Our True Value
This is what being Naturally Subversive is all about, remembering our own innate revolutionary power. It’s about looking at an advertisement of a whole bunch of different individuals who’ve been blacked out and seeing that the shiny little device they’re holding and dancing around with is what’s truly invaluable. Those people had to be muted because they have individual power, they are unique, they have stories to tell even if they never say a word. Those devices however? They’ll be replaced in 6 months and there will be a new advertising campaign geared directly at making people feel once again somehow “less than” without this new “totally improved” and totally replaceable device. Are you starting to see the cracks yet?
Being a revolutionary is as much about defending yourself and your own value as it is defending the value of truth. In order to subvert the norm, you have to have a confidence and strength that too many are just too manipulated to see. I know because I was one of these indoctrinated people. I was indoctrinated by my father, made to believe that his authority and truth were somehow more worthy and valuable than my own. I was indoctrinated by Christianity, made to believe that my behaviors could make me more or less valuable. I was indoctrinated by America, made to believe that I wasn’t worthy unless I was proud of this country I call home. I was indoctrinated by society, made to believe that a degree and a job would finally make me feel the fulfillment that had always slipped out of my unworthy reach. I had to find out the hard way that I was very, very wrong.
If your story is anything like mine, than the idea of being rebellious and going against tradition is tied up in ideas of shame, guilt and “sin.” It is not easy to stand up for yourself, but that doesn’t make it wrong. My personal journey has been ongoing my entire life, and the vast majority of it I’ve been “loosing;” believing the lies, convinced that I just need “this or that” to finally be happy. The steps I had to take pushed back each and every time, but the desire for more, the desire for true and free living kept me going. Along the way I made choices, some “good” and others “bad,” but over time I stopped classifying and began to understand that any “ideal” is an illusion itself. The past is ours to build from and the future ours to build towards, but all we really have is the present moment. I was sacrificing my moments for the sake of meeting standards I didn’t create for myself or understand, and by doing so I was sacrificing my own value for these illusions. It wasn’t until I started taking back my time that things really started to change.
Defending your time is a violent act in our current society where “time is money” and money is god. Still, after asserting myself and taking back the time I spent (and paid big bucks for) at university and learning to govern my own education, I had become addicted. After college, I managed to land a great job with office, benefits and perks, but – I’d already tasted the freedom and I couldn’t ignore the calling I felt deep within to GO! So, I left. I took back not just a day or two a week but ALL OF IT. I had less than 1500$ to my name and no idea what I was going to do, but I knew I couldn’t stay there and just play along any more; I had a sneaking suspicion that I was worth more.
I’d love to tell you that as soon as I left my job everything came together and life just made sense, but that’s not how it works. Instead, there I was, newly divorced, unemployed and soon enough “homeless.” I had gone from being the friend all my college peers were envious of to the girl everyone talked about to the tune of “she lost her marbles.” Yet, I was happier than I had ever been. Somehow, even though there was no “magic solution” that made everything possible, I made it through each and every month and not only could I pay my bills, I was delighted to find that I was spending less and less money. Rent was now gone, utilities were also gone, I sold my car and got rid of insurance payments and before I knew it I had managed to get myself down to exactly 0$ in monthly bills. I lived with friends and family, depending on where and when I was needed, and somehow by focusing on contributing to the lives of people I cared about, my needs were also met. Minimalism became important for survival and I was no longer forcing myself to fit into modes of productivity and worth that required endless buy-ins and one-ups. I eventually even gave up my phone network, learning new ways to utilize my devices without having a tethered leash. I was finally happy, and I was as poor as I’ve ever been.
Defending Your Inherent Value
In a world that’s constantly telling you how you’re not good enough, what you don’t have and how you’re failing, being confident in your own value and worth is a revolutionary act. It won’t be easy and people who are still hedging their bets on the matrix will tell you again and again that you are wrong, but you won’t care anymore because you’ll be able to see yourself clearly for once: as a valuable and worthy human being. Of course, this also changes the way you see everyone else, especially those who are still miserable slaves to the system. Instead of the pride and ego attained by “doing everything right” and “playing by the rules,” you’ll have intrinsic confidence that overflows into compassion because you no longer feel like your success is dependent or could be threatened by anyone else. You’ll stop asking permission and start taking chances. You’ll find the ways you never new existed but always felt must be possible – you will change your whole life, and that my friend will change the entire world.