When People Don't Understand Us

When I was in middle school, my mother was a yoga teacher who drove a green van with the license plate, “TRY YOGA.”

This was the mid-nineties. Few people in Maine knew about yoga. Classmates used to prod me, “Why does your mother want us to try yogurt?”

“It’s yo-gah,” I’d say quietly, then, more loudly, because I wanted them to see I was on their side of removed disdain, “And I don’t know.”

What I know now is that my mother had a story in her and teaching yoga was a way to tell it. What I knew then, though, was I wanted to fit in.

When I was in my early 30s, I left a desirable job in Congress to build The Lightning Notes, the business I had in me that I wanted to give to the world.

Wait, many of my colleagues said, you’re leaving this great gig to write and teach? I don’t get it. Why?

“It’s a risk,” I’d say. “But it would be a bigger risk not to do it. “ What I know now is that I had a story in me and The Lightning Notes was the way to tell it. What I knew then was that a piece of me would wither and die on the vine if I didn’t try to tell it.

And I know now, too, that my mother showed me the way. She showed me the relentless heart needed to claw after our own wild callings rather than follow the pre-plowed path others expect of us.

There will be moments when people don’t understand us. When the truth that emanates from the deepest part of us makes no sense to them. And it will likely feel lonely to be unseen. It’s a loneliness that can be so sharp, it can make us want to eat it away, drink it away, even walk away from our truth so we can fit in.

When we are misunderstood, when we hunger to belong to the world around us at the expense of belonging to ourselves, remember this: The story we each have in us cannot be told through obedience to the status quo. Otherwise, it’s not our story. It’s the status quo’s story, the pre-plowed path’s story.

It is a risk to claw after our own wild calling. We risk not fitting in. We risk having to plow, pave, push our way forward in the darkest of dark.

But the greater risk is not having lived.

So may we live. Each of us. No matter the clawing.

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