I don’t believe that rebellion is something that you grow out of, get-over or rise above. I think that if you’re born with a rebellious spirit then it will always be a part of you, channeling forth from you in one way or another. I used to think that one day I would cure my inner rebellion but now I’ve learnt to love it as a valid and worthy part of who I am.
Let’s get something clear I’m not talking about breaking the law when I talk about rebelling. I’m talking about forging your own path and choosing what’s right for you based on your own beliefs rather than someone else’s. There’s no doubt about it, rebels question rules. We don’t just accept them because they are there. We ask why. We prove rules wrong and we write our own.
My rebellion used to be tainted with judgement, hatred and negativity. I looked at people who followed fashion, who got good grades, who were popular, who ‘conformed’ and I detested everything about them. I made it my duty to be everything they were not.
This decision dictated everything about me, from my taste in music to my ambitions in life. Anything that I was envious of, I rebelled against and anything I disagreed with, I fought with. And when I say I fought, I mean I started my own internal war, taking ‘pleasure’ in pointing out how stupid, ugly or conformist people were. My rebellion cause to suffer unnecessarily, feel angry, treat people badly and make choices for the wrong reasons.
It probably doesn’t surprise you that I developed an anxiety disorder. I was a hate-fueled-stress-bomb! In an attempt to deal with my anxiety, one day I dragged myself along to a meditation class.
I found it so difficult not to judge the entire experience, including the other people there and the facilitator, but as it came around to my turn to talk about how my week was, this wave of vulnerability swept over me. I shared about my struggle with anxiety and I knew that I couldn’t judge these people. They listened to my story and offered me their support. Before this I didn’t even know what it felt like to be supported. Everything changed for me from this point on.
As I meditated I let go of all the hatred. I let go of harsh judgements and criticisms. I even let go of the disappointment that I felt towards myself. The facilitator taught me about non-judgement, acceptance and unconditional love.
I started to understand what peace felt like and all of a sudden, I realized that I didn’t need to worry myself with what anyone else thought of me. In fact I didn’t even have to care what anyone else did at all!
I realized that my rebellion up until that point had been fueled by other people.
As I went thought this spiritual awakening I expect my rebellious spirit to leave me as well but something unexpected happened. The more spiritual I became, the more rebellious I became, but I wasn’t fueled by hate any more. I was fueled by a strong sense of self.
Instead of actively bad-mouthing a TV show that I thought was ridiculous, I asked people what they liked about it. Instead of eating unhealthy food all the time, I channeled my indulgence into special moments that I allowed myself to fully enjoy. Instead of smoking all the time, I just had one whenever I felt like it (which led to me quitting soon afterwards). And instead of pointing out what everyone else was doing wrong, I just aligned myself with what was truly right for me.
Do I still consider myself a rebel? Absolutely! I still question things, let myself be “bad” and I forge my own path, but now I do it with love.
Photo by Renata Alves dos Anjos