“Alright! Lead the way!”
When I was younger, I was the oldest in my class. And, as the natural classroom hierarchy goes, the oldest must always lead.
It didn’t matter that I was soft spoken. It didn’t matter that I was a dreamer that preferred to stare out the window aimlessly for hours, whisked away by my own imagination. It didn’t matter that I was more than content with just expressing my ideas and listening to others express theirs.
I was the oldest among them. Therefore, I must lead.
One by one, we’d fall into line. We’d walk forward, backward, towards, away, anywhere at all in the innocent, untainted world that we had considered a reality all those years ago. They expected me to lead, to use my so-called experience as the oldest child to guide them. Blindly, they followed me everywhere, down every path I took them.
We walked together, sure. We stood together, sure. We were together, sure. But at the same time … At the same time, we weren’t.
They walked a step after me, never going anywhere I hadn’t already. They stood an inch behind me, presenting me out to the world and thrusting an unwanted leadership upon my shoulders. But the worst part?
They expected things from me.
I was their leader. By default, I would lead them through all hardships. I would guide them, make them believe, help them achieve greatness. I just … I just couldn’t do that. I wasn’t capable enough. Not then, not now.
And it was made so much worse, so so so much worse I can’t even begin to explain, when they would look at me with their disappointment shining clear in their eyes. They disapproved of what I did, doubted what I did, regretted what I did.
And I can’t blame them.
We had a system that I couldn’t conform to. They could, no they would follow me, but I was simply incapable of leading.
I was just a lost leader, forced to accept my role.
It was where I stood.
~Where We Stand~
“Alright! Follow me!”
As I grew older, I became more reserved and quiet, if such a thing were possible. The old social structure had dissipated and we no longer chose our leaders by age.
It goes without saying that, despite whatever we’re told, we’re not all leaders. We’re not all cut out for such an important role. We’re not all meant to shine brightly in the sky and cast the light of inspiration into the souls of others.
But that’s alright. All leaders need people to listen right? People that will follow them?
We may not shine, but we can help others reach that brightness that they were destined for.
There is a problem though. If we are not leaders, if we cannot be leaders, then we must followers, right? Otherwise, we would be lost in life, unable to know where we’re going or why.
And as we all fall into line, one by one, the difference is clear.
I walk a pace behind, stand just ever so slightly in the back. Even without saying anything, it has already been established that I am not the important one. That I can be ignored for the most part.
I wasn’t a leader anymore, but the expectations were still there, and I was expected to be a follower now.
I’m expected to listen, to do, but never to question. Never to wander. Never to doubt. I can suggest, but that’s not the same as doubting, now is it?
I thought that it would be better as a follower. I would no longer have to lead anyone. I would no longer have to make all the decisions. I would no longer have all those responsibilities on my shoulder. I may still have expectations, but I wasn’t expected to be great.
I thought that if I was a follower, I’d be happy.
But something felt … off.
There was something that came with being a follower. A feeling of worthlessness as if you’re disposal at a moment’s notice. A lack of power as if nothing is in your control anymore. You’re just grasping at straws, leaving your fate to others.
It’s not prominent. If you don’t know you’re looking for it, you won’t even realize. It just suddenly sneaks up on you. One day you’re feeling quite cheery and normal and worthwhile and the next you realize that if you were to disappear you’d leave nothing behind.
In this world, I found that we all had a role to play. Once again, I was shoved, quite uncomfortably mind you, into a role: to be just another follower in the everyday crowds, always one step behind.
It was simply where I stood.
~Where We Stand~
The world is a cruel place, isn’t it?
They tell us we are unique. They tell us we can be anything we want to be. As long as our imaginations let free, we can surpass all boundaries. The horizon is the end, but the horizon is endless. We are free to be as we please.
To an extent, that is true, but not nearly true enough.
As soon as we are born, we are pushed into a role. With this role come the limitless expectations, the stereotypes, the regulations. As we grow, we explore our role. Change it even.
Never do we break free.
We never escape society’s never-ending need to push us into roles. The whole world’s a theater, and our life is just one play out of billions. But every play needs actors, needs roles that can only be filled by us. A set part with all its rules and appearances and what not. It’s where we stand in this theater. We never do break free, as long as we stay on stage and continue to perform.
But we can come close.
I’ve come close.
For the longest time, I thought I was an outlier, someone that was never really special and didn’t belong. I had resigned, knowing that no matter what I did, I’d always have to fill a part of some sorts, be classified in one way or another. I’d always be unhappy and uncomfortable no matter who I was.
And then I met you.
~Where We Stand~
“Alright! Let’s go!”
I don’t think I remember when you walked into my life. You’ve probably been here for longer than I can remember even noticing you.
You seem like a normal person. Someone average to the outside world. Can you blame them, though? When we see so many unique people every day, everyone becomes normal.
Yes. To all others, you are just another face in the crowd. But not to me.
To me, you are special, even if you don’t realize it. Why? Well, simply because I’m not another performer in your play.
I’m in your play, that’s for certain just as you are in my own. But in your show, I can be myself. I am myself.
You don’t shove me into boxes, labeled meticulously with the role I must play. You don’t need me to be a leader or a follower. You don’t trail behind me or blaze on ahead. You stand right beside me.
You allow me to be who I am. All my flaws, all my mistakes, everything I am. You see it, acknowledge it, accept it. You don’t expect me to be anyone other than myself.
So let’s stand on the stage now. Let’s look out at the blurry faces of the audience, take in the blinding lights, and let’s make our exit. Because we might still be actors, we might still be playing, but with you, I can be who I want to be. With you, I can be myself, the me that I am happiest being.
So, let’s walk together. Let’s walk together, side by side, hand in hand, stride for stride. Let’s walk together, as equals.
Because that is where we truly stand.
In case it’s not super obvious, I am not the narrator here. It’s a random, fictional character.
Also, that lovely picture is not mine. All due credits go to the respective owners, and if you want a link, here.