Not Fitting In a Box

If you haven’t read my ‘sort of’ presentation in my previous post, I invite you to do so … You can find it here. If my first post has left you confused this one will make much more sense. But hey, you can always do whatever you want and change your mind later, right? I’d say we should normalize change once and for all.

As you can see from my bio, I’m not the typical 8-to-5er, suit-and-tie type of guy. Let’s just say my path is more of a trial-and-error type than a typical timeline where all is smooth and comfortable. When I first left the priesthood, I had someone in my surroundings telling me how unstable I was and reminding me of all the consequences and risks of my decisions. Yet, on the other hand, my true friend and soulmate made sure to remind me of how pitiful it would be to live a tasteless life, with a huge amount of lack of conviction and, above all unhappiness as a main course.

Was it easy to change my path once again? Not really. My whole life kind of revolved around being a public religious figure. From my ten years as a monk, to my life as a parish priest, I was known as Fr. Nick. I met everyone around me through my functions or had something to do with religion. Questioning my vocation and true calling was a heck of a psychological challenge for all of them. I went from being loved and having little time to myself, to having not much happening around me. I went from receiving tons of messages, emails, and calls, to being left with a phone I often doubted even worked.

Change can be scary!

Was I hesitant? Absolutely! But I knew that my unhappiness and constant quest for truth and justice would never quiet down if I did not pursue it in some way.

To be honest, in my mind, it was basically a life-or-death situation: “Continue this life and you’ll end up killing yourself. On the contrary, risk it all; you might be afraid of heights for a while and have a few sleepless nights, but you will be alive.”

Aren’t we created to adapt and change? Aren’t we in constant evolution? I’m not talking about Darwin here … just a simple reminder that from birth to death, we keep evolving and changing. Our values, ideas, convictions, tastes, evolve and, next thing we know, we find ourselves liking things that used to disgust us, enjoying situations that previously seemed boring.

For as long as I can remember, I was different. Never really enjoyed any of the games other kids were playing, wasn’t good at sports. Overthinking seemed to be my only activity. Hide-and-seek would best define the game I really loved … but take out the seek and keep the hide.

Change also means finding yourself

Struggling to define myself, my teenage years became the threshold of my public life. I was determined, at all costs, to become one of the cool kids. I went from being dressed by my mom to wearing outrageous clothes I made sure I picked from the hidden aisles in stores … you know, the type of clothes no one would really wear unless possessed by the god of self-confidence … stripping my jeans at the bottom and sewing triangles to create custom bell-bottoms ending up creating the desired effect: I was now different, loved, known for my style and even was nicknamed by the pastor of the herd as Nick the sixties. That’s it! I had made it!

My only ambition was to be different! I was a rebel artist who held his grounds with a pencil and a notebook. Words would flow through my veins as proficiently as all the garbage I consumed to keep my position in the herd. I looked at others as always being better than me, I struggled to love myself … so I found love in every possible way … and the image I was giving was the easiest way to get there.

I had succeeded in my teenage ambitions, but not in my main quest for happiness. All these drugs, random sexual relations and time spent in cultivating an image had left me with a strong feeling of emptiness. That’s when unexpectedly, my life changed. I entered a new religious community in Rome. I define it as monastic life, because it is a little more complicated than that in the lingo of the church, but that was basically it for me.

Those years in a monastery have been beneficial for many aspects, but when I look back, that is when I started to be crushed. No artistic expression was tolerated, no exuberance was accepted, no difference was valued … on the contrary, imitating the founder’s penmanship and virtues was the only way!

So you get it…? I went from the outside the box kid who would go out of his way to be loved, to being the docile little monk who would never step out the line.

All the following years of my life became a constant desire to fit in … a never-ending trial and error of being just like others. At this point, you might better understand why all this caught me back and made me re-question everything.  It’s crazy how things would have been so much easier if encouraged to be myself… My questioning would have been different if supported by my loved ones… Instead, they tagged me with words that conditioned me even further.

Let’s stop this here for now, but I strongly suggest, at this point, that you subscribe to my blog to follow my journey. In my next post, I want to tell you more about this last sentence “Instead, they tagged me with words that conditioned me even further.” And tell you all about the unconscious power of words.