“There is a place. Like no other place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery and danger! Some say to survive it: You need to be as mad as a hatter. Luckily, I am.” (Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)
“So I think I’m going crazy,” I confessed to my friend one day, via text message. To which she coolly inquired about the basis of this self-diagnosis. At the time I could not pinpoint the precise reason, I just knew something felt different. I felt carefree, silly, and vivacious – three words that, if you know me well you know, are not typical characteristics. Obviously that means I’m going insane, right? Obviously.
As some of you may remember, I recently went on a retreat. And since returning home, however unwilling and disinclined I was to come back to real life, I haven’t been the same. I have hence concluded that the reason I returned feeling not quite myself, even insane at times, is because that time away seemed to unwind me. It unraveled and untied the knots I earnestly clung to, if not entirely, largely. What is even more amazing is that I was not even aware of how tightly I was coiled, until I wasn’t.
Life is so serious. Being an adult so ominous. Then add an uptight disposition, and what you are left with is a firmly wound ball of yarn, so confining that the individual strands become worn and unraveled. It had been too long since I had stopped to ask myself, “Is this who I really am? Is this who I want to be?” And most importantly, “Do I have to be this way?”
The glorious advantage to visiting a place where you know no one, and no one knows you, is that you can be whoever you want. Because they won’t know the difference! Even if who you decide to be is yourself, which in my opinion, is always the most enlightening option. Not the self that you’re trying to be, or wish that you were, but the true-come-as-you-are-self. You may be surprised to find that you like what you find.
I think exploring your individuality can be hard to do when you are married to someone with a dominant personality. When you are with someone for so many years, and so many hours in the day, it can be easy to take the back seat and allow their personality to take over. Or at least that is what I tend to do. (Per request, I plan to elaborate in more detail later on practical ways to maintain individuality in covenant marriage.) Being married is a beautiful and interesting dynamic, the two becoming one. But what makes each couple unique is the differences they bring to the table – don’t lose that.
Is it so bad to be a little mad? Or even a tad deranged? If being crazy means lots of laughter and silly behavior, and even acting my age (instead of twenty years older), then maybe I don’t want to be sane. Is that what “normal” people feel like? You know, the kind of people who aren’t naturally inclined to anxious reactions; or the kind of people who don’t have chronic tension knots living in their shoulders.
Mad Matter: “Have I gone mad?” Alice: “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.” (Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)
Just this week I was acutely reminded of what a giant nerd I am, like to the core. First, a stranger my friend and I met at the Renaissance Festival voiced their keen observation, after only a few minutes’ acquaintance, “So you look like cheerleaders on the outside, but inside you’re really just nerds.” Then, my husband was relaying a conversation he had with one of our mutual friends, to whom he was attempting to explain my numerous odd interests in an entertaining list of sorts.
Yet what is even more strange is the pride that I take in my idiosyncrasies. I enjoy being different, maybe even a little too much at times. They are the part of me that is unwound – the part that craves adventure and amusement. These oddities help me take myself less seriously, which is a good thing. So I will leave with you with this one small piece of advice, a little American idiom, one that is on repeat in my own head. A little cacophony for your philosophy. It is for all of you other serious, uptight, type-a people out there. Get over yourself.