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Into The Wilderness

by Ashley Koepp 3 months ago in advice

My Path From Isolation To Belonging

Into The Wilderness

I have recently become OBSESSED with the amazing researcher, author and keynote speaker, Brene Brown. For those of you who are not hip to her and her work yet, get on board NOW! For those of you who are familiar, you know what it is like to be impacted by her insight.

In an interview she did with photographer, director, and entrepreneur Chase Jarvis, on his educational platform, Chase Jarvis Live, titled "The Quest for True Belonging" Brene discusses the subject of the inherent human need for a sense belonging. At one point in the interview, she talks about how people who are "creatives" (artists of all kinds; photographers, film makers, writers, painters, etc) are the people who are going to have the most influence in the world to CREATE movement in the right direction for humanity.

At the same time, even being in a class of people who have the most potential to INFLUENCE HUMANITY, creatives are often the people who are on the outside. Often times, alone in their own wilderness.

This insight hit me like a ton of bricks as I listened. I can relate on such a deep level, and have had a hard time understanding it fully until now.

I have always felt a little different than other people, especially my peers. Growing up, I fit in just enough. Looked and dressed "normal", had just enough of some common interests as my peers to not stand out, not to be considered "weird", and to fly under the radar for the most part.

There was a part of me in my adolescence, like most kids, that wanted to conform. It is human nature to want to be a part of a community. To think, look, and feel the same way I thought everyone else did. I wanted to see things the way my friends did, have the same interests, opinions and priorities. But, much of the time, I just didn't.

I was usually busy pondering why someone behaved the way they did. How they must have felt and trying to decipher the energy I felt from them. Or contemplating what life was trying to teach me. Or wondering if we will ever really understand what it's like inside of a black hole or how big the universe actually is. While other girls my age were devastated if they couldn't get their hair highlighted, or wear the latest style of jeans from Abercrombie. It has always been difficult for me to focus on and be concerned about the day-to-day happenings that most people seem to have trouble thinking outside of.

I also come from a family that is riddled with divorce. My parents split up when I was a toddler. While they are both amazing parents and I am blessed to have them, they both remarried people who not only never fully accepted me, but actually rejected me. This left me straddling two worlds, never really feeling welcomed or truly loved in either. I was always on the outside looking in. I never felt that I belonged anywhere.

Brene goes on in her interview to talk about how "creatives" often feel a sense of belonging everywhere, and nowhere at the same time. When I look back at my life, I am the epitome of this concept.

In highschool, I felt totally lost within myself. I was friendly with everyone. From the farmers to the band geeks, the cheerleaders to the goths, the popular kids to the art weirdos (which is where I felt MOST at home). So I belonged to a bunch of different groups, but never really found my place. I belonged everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I was never able to conform or "find my place", which was stressful for me at the time. Now, however, I understand.

Being born a creative, being born into the wilderness, and living on the outside put me in a position in my life of never really having that sense of belonging with others. But, being born into the wilderness helped me develop a sense of belonging within myself at a very early age. So, conforming to things that are not true to my heart and true to my sense of self, is painful to do.

Being on the outside, I think, also gave me the gift of observation. I have always been able to see people from all different perspectives, and to see them wholly. The pain behind the anger, the insecurity behind the arrogance, the ugliness underneath the veil. This tension within people is what creatives have the ability to capture and share with the world like no one else can. As someone who sees the world, almost as if from a birds eye view, I have a very hard time relating to the "small" daily concerns and stresses that humanity is consumed by anymore.

I think people who are creative, myself included, were born to see this bigger, deeper, all encompassing view of humanity. To see the depths of the soul, trapped in our human condition. Then to paint a picture (figuratively or literally) of the mess we create while trying to find that soul again, in such a beautiful way that when delivered to the world, everyone else can see it too.

Creatives, whether born into the wilderness, cast out into it, or self-imposed, were meant to be on a journey alone in some ways. Spending time alone with one's self, gives us more time to connect within ourselves. In being alone, we have the space to express, to contemplate, and to understand.

The discomfort of not belonging, is nothing compared to the pain of losing yourself.

Wondering around in my wilderness, gave me the freedom to explore what is within and discover how I connect to the world. What I have found is that by embracing what used to make me feel so alone, is exacty what makes me special. It is this understanding that finally allowed me to accept myself, to get to know myself, to understand myself, to love myself, and to feel alive all by myself.

I truly myself.

Ashley Koepp
Ashley Koepp
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