Outsider Triumph.

The idiomatic phrase “outside looking in”, is how most of us feel from time to time. We look and see the best that everyone has to put forward of themselves and we feel like an alien.

Many people fear being labeled an outsider, but it has it’s benefits.

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Opportunities come and go, people (friends, family members strangers), seem to take advantage of them while you remain just beyond their reach.

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Being an outsider is just a way for recognizing your unique qualities; when you do not belong among the in-crowd it means you have something special to contribute. Once you are aware of what makes you an outsider, it is up to you to use it to make some changes that will benefit others.

When people point out things about you that to you are not unusual pay attention; you might discover how unusual and thereby how rare your abilities are. No one wants to have the same things presented to them 24/7. If you want to bring something new to the table but there is no seat available for you, just build your own; people will appreciate what you have to offer and join you there.

If you find it difficult to conform to what is expected and you have an idea how something can be improved, don’t wait on anyone to give you permission, create your own lane and make people take notice until they too can see the benefit of what you have to offer.

When you are outside the accepted line, people will leave you alone to do what you would have been distracted to do. So while they are busy trying to stay inside the line, you’re thinking of ways in which you can move it to be beneficial to more persons, including you.

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Finally, as an outsider no one can define you, but you. Many may ask, who you are, what you are or what you stand for; you determine all of this and as a result earn the right to change when you see fit.

Being an outsider does not have to be lonely because you stand alone, it can be the opportunity you need to truly discover how limitless your world is for all the potential you have, waiting to be unleashed.

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Are You A Boxer?

Many will say that Boxer in, Animal Farm by George Orwell, has many admirable qualities that we aspire to have. He is loyal, kind-hearted, hard-working and always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty – an enigma for too many of us. It is also important to mention that the story also acts as a political allegory about revolution and power and those impacted by such events. Specifically, it’s an allegory of the Russian Revolution from 1917-1923. This revolution has been described as a violent one (Bloody Sunday Massacre of 1905), which saw the end of imperial rule and the beginning of Communist rule and the formation of the soviet union.

What starts off in Animal Farm as a successful uprising and promise of a better future losses momentum with the replacement of the old, (Old Major), with the new (Napoleon and his minions). Things quickly go sour as the pigs, in a position of power, manipulate the legacy of Old Major (Animalism), to control the other animals, while solidifying their power and wealth.

And this is where we bring in Boxer…

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I was talking to a friend of mine about working hard at whatever we do, and he mentioned Boxer; ” yuh remember what happened to Boxer, from Animal Farm? Dem tun him inna glue!”

Yes Boxer played a vital role in the development of the farm in its new era. His indomitable spirit inspired the other animals when their fortunes changed and he worked relentlessly for the good of the farm. But at what cost?

Instead of receiving trophies, incentives and other accolades for his effort, and retiring in bliss, he is sold off to be made into glue when he is of no more use! His worth? Whiskey for Napoleon and the other pigs! All that he receives is the title of hard worker, “he was a true hard worker”. He was loyal to a fault and though he was the strongest animal on the farm, he used his strength to serve those who exploited him and not to improve the conditions of the other animals facing the same exploitation. The worse part was that when something went wrong he always blamed himself and vowed to work harder. He had become too use to taking orders, to trying to get things right and always being obedient and never disobedient.

Sometimes we think we are acting independently and never realize that we have been programmed to follow a path created for us; the mind has been programmed.

So, the lasting image of Boxer is his effort to make the mill:

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To see him toiling up the slope inch by inch, his breath coming fast, the tips of his hoofs clawing at the ground, and his great sides matted with sweat, filled everyone with admiration

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Then again, it could be for me the most tragic scene in the book. This is when Boxer taken away to be slaughtered; for Boxer it is the last time we will see or hear him…

…Although the animals warn him, it is too late. Boxer is already loaded into and locked in the truck for the glue factory. His strength is compromised by his failing health. His desperation is apparent by the sound of “tremendous drumming of hoofs inside the van, but he is too weak to break free.

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There are many lesson here:

  1. Be careful who you trust they may take advantage of you!
  2. Never follow anyone blindly, even your friends.
  3. Even the best of us can be controlled and manipulated if we let it happen to us.
  4. Know your worth and never compromise.
  5. Make your own path and lead the way.
  6. Make your dreams a reality and don’t die on someone else’s
  7. Be the best you can be but never be someone’s ladder.
  8. Know and embrace your limitations and never see them as a negative but as a reminder that you will never be unemployed because you’re always working on yourself!

And many more if we think hard enough.

I read Animal Farm when I was fourteen years old and I was so inspired by the revolution carried by the animals, brought to tears by the sacrifice and ill-treatment of Boxer and the other animals. Saddened by the anti-climatic nature of the revolution’s aftermath, especially after Old Major’s death. Angered by the greedy, heartless and corrupt pigs – a suitable animal for such a role! And the really sad truth that there are people who lie, deceive and undermine those who for whatever reason find themselves at a disadvantage. Also, there are many who trust too much, give too much and receive very little or nothing in return, just like Boxer. Their lives become tragic.

Although Boxer had the ability to be an inspiring hero, in this story he is a tragic- hero figure; one to be pitied and pointed at,

“that is what not to do!”

Life teaches hard lessons, never be too gullible to learn them, and learn them well.

Meekness And Weakness

A fool mistakes meekness for weakness and a quiet tongue for an idle mind.

Have seen and read a lot of articles that affirm that being meek does not mean weakness, but tell that to those who use it to their advantage to the detriment of that meek soul.

There are some who believe in meekness as being submissive and easily imposed on. They ignore the merits of a personality that is gentle or quiet. Most immediately think of a meek person being a door mat, not as a strong and confident person who is wise enough to know when to move and when to be still. Someone who uses humility as a way of supporting progress instead of strive. It is someone who has really gained the knowledge of true contentment, not phased by trends and popular opinion – not fake meekness.

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I know persons who have lived a long and what should have been fulfilling lives, yet they feel compelled to remind others that they are not their equal. Why you may ask? They are not her equal to her because they make lack the things they possess or may not have gone to the places they have been. While you have those who have more but never feel the need to make others feel small because of what they have been able to achieve while here on earth. Being being does not mean that you are perpetually poor or lacking, it’s a mindset that has nothing to do with what you have or think you lack.

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There are also those who try to be everything to everyone and think that they are being meek, humble and are pleasing the creator. However, I think it’s more important to know what you are capable of and living that truth; operate based on what you have been designed to do and don’t be a chameleon. Being one never works out for long, as one day you will be exposed; just be your imperfect self. Being humble also, does not mean “bowing down”, but it is an awareness to your own flaws and limitations.

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Ephesians 4: 15

When persons are meek, they do not keep quiet and accept whatever they are told. I have come to realize that that is someone who is weak in character and may have been damaged by a series of unfortunate events in their live. Instead, the meek will speak when it is necessary and will act when it is necessary to do so. They will fight injustice and speak in defense of those who cannot or will not and they will tell the truth because, for them, there is no other option. And if you think that such persons sound perfect; no, it is hard to do and that is why it should be seen as power under control ( Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city: Proverbs 16:22 ). It is something for us to strive towards.

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Inner strength is an experience that leads to a sense of peace and having a sense of well-being. Being strong is hard especially when others do not expect you to be. We can easily allow situations to overwhelm us to the point where we cannot move forward, because we only can see the path we left behind. When we would rather stay in the happiness of the “good ol’ days”, then we can say forget being strong and just be complacent.

I have had to be strong many times. The first was when my mother left me behind and I, out of sheer terror ran behind her only to be beaten back to my new home. I had to learn to live without her. To only see her once per week and sometimes months in between. I felt like an orphan.

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I had to learn how to be strong when my grandmother, my second mother, died the day before my first exam, in the first year of university. When I had to attend her funeral I made sure to cry before and not during it. I had to be strong when I was told after the first year that since my grandmother’s death the little money available to me to go to school, had evaporated over night. I had to be strong, when Mondays to Fridays I went most days at school eating very little or nothing at all because I did not have enough for food and bus-fare. I had to be strong when all it seemed I was working for was not to leave university without a degree. I had to be strong working from 6:00 a.m to 7:30 p.m Mondays to Fridays each summer, after her death, so that I could have some money to go back to University, even with student loans. At least I had a way out.

And once I left I thought, ” well, I no longer have to struggle, once I get a job” – how Naive! I lost my strength many times since then and from most of life’s hard knocks I have not recovered. But I still have to be strong in order to get back to my true strength to meet my true true self again. So I can say hi, hello, how are you to the girl I once knew.

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