Searching for the truth from within is very different than looking to the state to provide an answer.
I write this for my sisters.
I write this for those who may not have a voice.
I write this for those who are fearful to live their truth.
I write this for those who feel unaligned with their life.
I write this for those who fear being judged by their loved ones.
I write this for those who have double lives and are sick of wearing that mask.
As a child, I’d often get reprimanded for the number of questions I’d ask. Seriously, I was one annoying child, curious about all the unknowns in life. I’d question everything—my parents, my religion, my teachers, and my conditioned learning.
When it came to rules and limitations, I wasn’t really good at listening (my partner tells me I still suck at it). But how else are we supposed to learn when the people we’re surrounded by don’t question their own reality (or their superiors)?!
Change doesn’t happen from complacency.
If you look at those who changed the world for the better—Socrates, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King, Malala Yousafzai, and so on—they questioned authority, including their (organized) faith.
Everything that I was told not to do, I’d f*cking do it:
Playing card games
Reading Harry Potter
Trick or treating
Dressing up on Halloween
Dancing (because moving your body is a sin)
Reading books on philosophy and psychology (because it’s not Christian to question such things)
Questioning my youth pastor
Learning about evolution and other “sciencey” things like climate change
Becoming a member of the theosophical society
Reading other religious texts outside the Bible
Visiting an ashram
Drawing yin-yang signs and mandalas (God doesn’t approve)
Listening to rock music
Learning to meditate (this apparently conjures the Devil guys)
Establishing a yoga practice
Dating someone who is not a Protestant Christian
Having sex out of wedlock (the horror!!)
Not focusing on getting a ring on my finger (dude, I got bigger dreams than just getting married)
Piercing my nose (but that’s “Hindu”!)
Getting a tattoo
Believing that women should have the right to choose
Warning: Attempting any of the things listed above could possibly conjure the Devil.
By doing the exact opposite of what I was taught from my Baptist faith, I was able to get out of a manic depression that haunted me throughout my teen years. There was a point in my life where I contemplated killing myself because I felt so constricted with rules.
I felt I could not express myself freely.
I thought I was broken—and that there was something wrong with me because I did not agree to the life philosophies imposed on me as a child. I thought I was not lovable and that I was a terrible sinner. Most of all, I was terrified that my family would judge me for being my true self instead of wearing a religious facade and living my life to please “God.”
Leaving the church and searching for my own truth is what saved my soul. By questioning every aspect in my life, I was led back to my internal compass. I now observe a spiritual practice that nourishes every inch of my soul and brings me closer to “God.”
My version of God today is much different than when I was as a child—I no longer see some old, white, bearded man in the sky. And that’s okay.
The funny thing is that no one ever talks about our definition of “God.” The definition of “God” is so subjective—and it’s natural for us to project our beliefs and perceptions onto something that is so challenging to define, especially when we attempt to define it through our own experience.
No one is right or wrong when it comes to anything in this world. It’s all subjective and based off our individual experience, as well as our conditioned learning. And that’s okay too.
Every day, I am still learning how to cleanse myself of my conditioned patterns that no longer serve me—the patterns that trigger feelings of shame and fear. I choose to live my authentic truth, whatever it may be.
There is nothing wrong with our curiosity, our sexuality, or our desire to ask challenging questions in order to seek the truth. If you’re not harming yourself or society, then you should have the right to live a life of your own choosing. Be whatever you want to be. Whether you’re an atheist, a lesbian, a scientist, a Christian, a poet, an artist, or all of the above.
To some, I might come off as rude. To others, I might be outspoken or f*cking weird. I understand that some people—like those who are related to me or who I went to church with—might not like reading this. They might think I’m a sinner, that I’m not Christian, that I’m “bad.” They can think whatever they want.
More people need to speak their minds and not fear what others may think of them, especially when it comes to fearing their own families.
Live your truth—even if it means being called a weirdo or rebel. We should focus on our happiness, and do what brings us joy. No one can live our lives for us. People might dictate their thoughts and opinions to us, but we don’t have to listen to them.
It’s all up to you to shine your light into the world.
We all deserve to be wildly happy, fulfilled, and turned on by life—even if your definition of a “good life” is different than mine.
I’m constantly evolving and so are my beliefs and perceptions. I might change my mind on something as I grow older and (hopefully) wiser. And that fluidity of the mind is what often pisses (some) people off.
But I don’t play by the rules. I live by my inner compass, refusing to be defined by any institution. I follow my curiosity and chase my soul’s longings. I play with my shadows and am proud of my scars. I refuse to be bound in one direction and walk toward what scares me.
I explore my doubts and my darkest fears—I don’t just sweep them under the rug anymore. Those monsters have haunted me long enough. I am learning to unshackle myself from the chains of popular opinion and the disease to please. I am unapologetic for the words that come out of my mouth.
Instead of having blind faith, I trust.
I trust in myself.
I trust in the unknown.
I trust in what the universe—or “God”—has to offer.
I choose to explore the cracks of my unconsciousness.
What about you?
Author: Mariya Leona
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman