"normal"

Your best-laid plans.

IMG_5095

We all want to know the outcome.

Which means we miss out on so much.

In my graduate school work (and what I learn from the School of Life), I'm learning how much people fear change and uncertainty. To avoid this discomfort of failure and disappointment, we try to control as much as we can in life.

Which means we miss out on the awesomeness that would be available to us that we can't even see or anticipate. By trying to control everything, the outcomes, the actions of others, ourselves, etc., we limit our experience to the VERY LITTLE worlds that we know. The limited knowledge we've gained from our life experience is the stuff we subsequently try to create a life from--and we limit or prevent ourselves from experiencing the many thoughts, ideas and experiences that are way beyond what we already know.

We create best-laid plans to live these incredible lives according to what we think would be great or ideal or perfect but in reality, those plans can end up costing us. 

♦♦♦

Recently, I was developing a new idea for my business. I love working with people one-on-one and giving one-shot talks but I wanted something that was some kind of combination between the two. I started to develop it and kept trying to create a program strictly about nutrition and lifestyle habits because I thought that was all people would really be interested in. But I l felt like something was missing. It wasn't totally me.

I wanted to know it would be successful so I was trying to create something that would appeal to the most people. I was playing it safe with something easy and generic.

In the meantime, I was thinking all these deep thoughts and writing deep-thought papers about my life experiences and reflections and posting some of that on my Facebook wall and people were loving that stuff.

And then, out of left field, this opportunity fell into my lap. I was asked to support a local small company with getting their managers to know themselves better, work better together as a team andbecome even more incredible leaders during a period of major change in the company.

Wow. That isn't exactly easy and safe stuff. It requires some deep digging--the kind of work I love and am really good at.

Suddenly, it became very clear what I needed to be focusing on. More than a mere wellness program, this was a total synthesis of what I know how to do, what I love to do and what I've been doing since the inception of my career. I had never really considered people would want the depth of material I wanted to present.

Those best-laid plans I had been drafting based on what I thought people would want and what I thought would be successful--easy and safe--turned out to be limiting what was possible for me and my present and future clients. 

I don't offer easy and safe. I offer challenging and fun opportunities to grow and evolve because that's how I live my life. That's what makes me, me.

It definitely involves letting go of outcomes and opening myself up to failure and disappointment. But I'd rather experience those things than a lifetime of regret and "what-ifs" from trying to control outcomes too much.

What outcome are you attached to?

Is it even what you would enjoy the most if it happened? How do you know?

What would be possible or available to you (or others) if you let up on the reins and stopped trying to control so much?

Passing Privilege

Ok, kids. Gather 'round. Time for Dillan to share a ditty with ya'. Today we're going to talk about PASSING.

Many of you will never have to deal with this in your lives because, regardless of your sexual orientation, you are gender conforming. What does that mean? Well, it means you dress, act and behave in ways that the larger society deems "normal and appropriate for the gender norms assigned to your sex".

Did I lose you?

OK, boys wear blue and they like trucks and sports. Girls wear pink, skirts, have long hair, like makeup and romantic comedies.

Check, check and check.

Those apply to you. You're good. You're "normal".

Not all apply? Oh, that's ok. Most of them apply to the outside observer, so you can pass. People won't suspect you might sport an "alternative lifestyle" (alternative to the "NORM", of course) so they will not target you on the street or in your daily life. They won't call you names or make comments about how your water bottle is the wrong color, or your hair is too short or the pronouns you prefer don't matter so they'll use whichever ones they want to anyway. They won't tell you that the sparkled shoes were the wrong choice because boys should wear sports jerseys or they won't call you a lady when you're wearing a men's tie when you're out to dinner with your girlfriend.

You pass, honey.

You can slide in and out of identifying however you want on any given day because most of the time, people will just assume you are straight.

You can choose where, when and how people know about your internal life--and you can control what experience you have as a result. This is a privilege.

This isn't about shaming or blaming (that's not how I roll)--but there is way too much oppression and power differentials in this country to not NAME the realities happening all-around us. To pretend otherwise is ignorant and perpetuates oppression, discrimination and intolerance.

Advocacy is the naming of privilege, power and difference in any and all communities where it is perceived--particularly by someone from a marginalized community or identity. Advocacy happens in good times and in bad. It happens when it needs to happen.

If you pass and benefit from privilege (be it white privilege, passing privilege, class privilege, etc.) you don't get to say when and where it's happening. You listen to the person naming it, and honor their experience. Confused? Go read Privilege, Power and Difference by Allan Johnson.

Know that there are many people every day who are affected by the norms in place in our society. For some, these norms create a sense of safety, a sense of their identity and "how to fit in" and they are hurting people who don't fit in and threaten their sense of identity. Our society is gradually moving away from these norms but it's not an easy road for the people who are paving the way to that change. If you are included in the norm, do your best to empathize with the people who are out in front, doing all they can to shift the paradigms to feel safer in their skin.

One final note about the passing piece; so I may illuminate a reality for many of my LGBTQ friends and community (we often refer to each other as "family").

Imagine being a woman, for instance, who is both gender conforming AND is attracted to women. She likes heels and makeup but doesn't like beard scruff against her face. In fact, this female-identified person is in a committed relationship to someone who identifies as a woman yet every day, someone asks her:

"So what's your boyfriend's name?" "When are we going to see a ring on that finger?" "Why don't you bring your boyfriend along? "So how long have you and your boyfriend been together?"

Hmm.

Every day she has to make a choice: come out every single damn day of her life to every single person who ASSUMES she's straight, or be silent and live a half-lived life, unable to express her joy and elation about the person she loves.

Not necessarily an easier existence just because she passes...

What's your experience? How can you SAVOR it and create the opportunity for others to do the same?