The world is not black and white. It is in fact full of shades of grey, with a good heap of colour, definitely not black and white.
Yet, as humans, we are committed to this notion that life has to be exactly that – black and white, right or wrong, yes or no.
It is this notion that feeds our own critical natures – we are either good at something or bad at something. It also feeds our opinion of each other – a person, or group is either right or wrong. It feeds our tolerance levels – if they are in, we forgive the person or group a multitude of sins, but if they are out, even when we actually agree with their behaviour, we don’t want to admit it.
On a day to day basis I am extremely critical of myself. I am too fat, too lazy, not active enough, not a good mother, not a good housewife, not educated enough. I reinforce the idea that I am a “bad” person and it is this opinion of myself that drives my depression. My brain tells me I am not good enough, and to drive the point home, it points out all the things that I am bad at.
Yet, when I analyse it, a life lived is a journey and the skills we acquire are on a spectrum. Here is what I mean:
I am overweight yes, but certainly not to the point where my life is impeded except for circumstances where I choose to it do so.
I am not lazy – I do not enjoy housework and certain other tasks and I do put them off until I have to do them, but indeed that doesn’t make me lazy, it makes me human. Some people are born for domesticity and good luck to them, I am not one of them.
On balance, whilst I do not run, swim, or partake in any formal activity, I can shop up a storm like nobody else and quite often my pedometer will tell me that I did over the required 10,000 steps just by moving from shop to shop. I am active, just not in the conventional sense perhaps.
Being a mother is probably one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. Being a mother of a child on the spectrum even more so. Your sanity comes under fire almost daily. Your confidence as a person capable of making sound decisions is questioned. This is because you are acutely aware that you are bringing up another human being and that your responsibility to ensure that human is good, kind, respectful and happy to boot is enormous. I find I question my ability to fulfil this task all the time. However, despite my lack of confidence, I have never given up. My own daughter now has a child of her own and my son, who is on the spectrum, has managed to make it through mainstream school and only has two years to complete his schooling. He has dreams and aspirations of becoming a video game designer. He has aspirations. That comes from being a tenacious parent who may make mistakes a long the way (plenty of them), but who also is prepared to do battle on a daily basis for her children. I may not be the stereotypical domesticated mother, but my children know I would do anything for them. That makes me at the very least an okay mother (spectrum, remember?).
I am an okay housewife. I hadn’t intended on becoming a housewife at all. I intended on working in the corporate world. Then Master J was born and his needs superseded my own need to earn money. I do not clean house very often. I, in fact, have a wonderful cleaner called Tom, who is my life saver. I tell myself, as I have mentioned in another post, that I am boosting the economy by providing employment for him. My house is neat and tidy and my friends tell me that they love coming over as it is a relaxed place to be where I am always with them, not rushing around cleaning up after everyone. It is true, I don’t even try to do the dishes until everyone has left. Largely because I hate doing dishes. It isn’t uncommon for them to be sitting there a couple of days later. But they do get done, eventually.
My feeling of being uneducated has dogged me for years. At school I was considered very clever. The problem is that I hated learning things that I didn’t like. I loved English and Drama, and other Arts subjects, but as for the other required learning, that really grated me. The upshot is that whilst everyone expected me to do really well, my school life ended with a mediocre result. I then went to university to become a biology teacher, because that seemed like a good and noble profession at the time, not because I loved biology which I didn’t. I hadn’t thought it through as I clearly had no idea how much science was involved. Who knew biology was a science? This “failure” set me on a path that would dog me for years. I could not consider myself educated unless I had a degree – black and white, see? Life experience and my wealth of knowledge garnered through extensive reading didn’t count in my book.
I am nearing 50. I have learned that what we thought was absolute 25 years ago does not hold true today. I have learned that there is no black and white, only greys and that life is smattered with colour along the way. I have learned that life is a journey. I have learned that as a species we evolve, that what the media tells us is true today is almost certainly not true tomorrow. We make decisions in the absolute, but life is not static, it is dynamic and those people that “go with the flow” are the ones that are the most happy, the most well adjusted, the most able to adjust their sails for stormy seas. I am learning to be that person. I am learning to be the person that just bobs along on the ocean, not trying to control the direction, but allowing life to take her wherever it sees fit for her to go. Yes, it feels counterintuitive at times, a lot of the time, but with practice, I am getting better.
How about you? Is it time to let the black and white go and to finally love your shade of grey?