One of my most viewed posts on this site was #inside where I talked about the anxieties of your inner thoughts and challenges and urged a lot more niceness to each other because of this.
Some of this was spurred from emotion; to thought; to words; to writing and sharing, was because of me not being nice to others and some people to me.
This is not quite from the same place and looks at the opposite of inside — #outside.
And to illustrate I’ll use the words of one of the UK Soul music scene’s most enduring and creative artists — Omar.
The song is called Outside — you can catch it here on YouTube.
When you feel that you’ve had enough
And the times are feeling really much too tough
Just take it out get some fresh air
Feel the breeze cool the heat taking over your head
Too much to mention of what’s going on
But please, believe me, there’s so much I gotta cool it down
All I have to do to stop is out the door
I know I can make it have it all
I don’t have to take it with my back against the wall
I feel it inside to get my self right outside
Whatever’s in my head no time to solve
Just time to get away
It’s poignant and perfectly captures the mood I have right now and the sense that #outside has all sorts of fantastic connotations and some not so nice ones.
When you’re #outside the realms of the groups, conversations, activities that you would love to be in — then that’s the down-side of being #outside.
The up-side of being #outside is that open, fresh air (actuality or metaphorical) sensation of no longer being locked in, chained down or stifled claustrophobically.
I recognise that for a range of reasons I’m now #outside. #Outside of things I once felt I belonged to, wanted to belong to and felt others welcomed me to.
And I’ve been writing recently about our categorisation of the state we find ourselves in and the outstanding work of Professor Clare Graves.
In Graves’ Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory (later to form the basis of Spiral Dynamics), he set out an evolutionary trail for humans for (amongst other things) intellectual, spiritual and emotional development that lead to an enlightening sense of being at one with the universe, and something we might know as existentialism and even the state of nirvana.
He also described that because it is cyclical, we can and will and do move backwards through the levels.
So we may be of advanced intellect; be incredibly spiritual and then find ourselves in a place of violence and mob rule. We will cycle back through our development, else risk danger and even demise. We’ll be tribal (for example).
So the crucial word here is “be”.
I saw some connections waxing lyrical over someone’s writing that appeared to be about “being” and so I checked it out. It was fancy, it was elegant it was light. And then a personal footnote and a big “clunk”.
We have no idea what people are dealing with that impacts how they are really “being”. Their #outside is one thing, but their inside has a lot going on we just don't know about.
Pretending to be on top of the game, laughing and being everyone’s go-to funny and wise person is both exhilarating and exhausting.
So this, along with one of the most powerful coaching sessions I’ve experienced in my whole life on Friday, has led me to realise that:
(a) I am #outside some circles — through circumstance; through my choice and through other’s choices.
I’m at peace with that. Without realising, I was more exhausted and let down by being in some of those “in-crowds”. So whilst puzzling at first (What’s happened? Why now? What have I done/not done?), I’m feeling the comfort of letting go of those in order to let come more meaningful, belief-based relationships — and the good news, that happens.
(b) I am #outside of my own desires to belong to everything and therefore nothing.
This element is in relation to both people to associate with and be close to, but more the things to belong to and work on and put my energy towards.
Two #outsides I wasn’t at all comfortable about until very recently.
Not knowing why being #outside circles had occurred and yet fully understanding the rhythm of life that has caused my choices about being #outside of some of those circles.
And wanting to be far from #outside and therefore inside to way too many work and societal issues.
I’m saying “no thank you, not for me” a lot more.
I’m saying “I’d like to, yet I have a lot to do and I don’t want to overcommit” a lot more.
I’m saying “I’m happy being on the #outside of this one thanks”.
Oh, it’s so liberating and gives me a sense of how I really want to be in the world. And then things come.
Seriously, get rid of interference caused by puzzling ostracisation, being left out, ignored, even ridiculed or laughed at.
Being #outside of others harmful, anti-you thinking and being and the guesswork associated with that is a good place to be. The fresh air Omar sings about.
And being #outside of too many efforts to define you, engage you, make an impact. Focusing on what is really going to give you the buzz in life and work is a hard thing to do when you’re interested in so many things. But worthy. Keep #outside of some of those things that just aren’t where you’re meant to be.
And as Nilofer Merchant says “Find your purpose, your people, your power” = Onlyness: Found on the inside and the#outside.