What does it mean to be different? Even writing this sentence probably turns a lot of people off this post, but that's kind of the problem isn't it? How many of us live in fear of being too far out of the ordinary, to own and embrace that which makes us unique? For example, I’ve been trying online dating to find someone special, and I feel like I see the same archetypes all the time. When I find myself browsing through a profile I always wonder who that person really is. Sure, I get that you like the outdoors, and sports, and your friends...that's totally cool, I do too. But how do you see and experience the world around you? What do you truly cherish, and why? What are your biggest hopes and fears? And this is true of many areas of social life, whether it be work, class, social media...it feels like diplomacy and the need to maintain certain appearances that align with social expectations almost always wins out, but is this approach healthy for our psychological well being?
The question I have is this: is it okay for us to share our souls with each other? Do you feel able to allow yourself to be open and vulnerable without worrying about the repercussions of doing so? It might just be me, but I'm often terrified of stepping over any lines that might lead to harsh judgements. I want people to like me, and I want others to spend time with me, so I tend to avoid situations that will lead to negative judgements. Life already feels isolating and lonely, so it doesn't make sense to take a risk that may lead to further loneliness. But at the same time, I want to share with people! I want to connect on a spiritual level, because the most significant moments of my life have been those when I've been able to be completely real with others. And I'm not saying that there isn't a time and a place for everything, but something about our current balance seems off. I see these subtle, culturally ingrained systems that reward people for being similar, and it doesn't feel like there's much in the way of social incentives to be different and stand out. And this is a problem because we are all unique people, and that should be celebrated! But if the world around us, a world of human construction, isn't aligned with this fundamental truth, than the conditions won't exist within which we can share our souls openly with one another.
In this life I've been fortunate to have had some transformative experiences that have connected me to a deeper reality that exists outside of myself, and those experiences showed me how much potential there is to improve human well-being by re-framing the way we understand the nature of our connections. That is where my interest in design comes from, because at its core design is about choices. It starts by asking a fundamental question..."why?", and through that process of searching comes a deeper wisdom about reality. Ultimately, if we want to create meaningful lives of deep spiritual significance, then we have to choose to create the environments, perspectives, and actions that will contribute to that end. For me, nothing is more valuable than the design lens that I take with me through my life.
If you've made it this far, you're probably thinking, "wow, this is a little heavy” and you'd be totally right! The truth is that while philosophy, and more specifically the wisdom that philosophy can bring you to, is incredibly important to me, I'm still a regular guy who loves to play games, watch movies, and spend time with friends. But at the same time, I'm not normal, and even though it scares me to death, I try to make the choice everyday to embrace that which makes me different and share it with the world. Nothing in this life matters more to me than creating environments (physical, cultural, social, etc) that contain the conditions within which all of us have the freedom and courage to peel away at our onions with the goal of embracing and expressing greater personal agency in ways that align with our ever-changing souls. It’s for this reason that I will be pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Design. My first appointment with a program coordinator is 10 days from now.