- Breaking with convention or tradition
- Independent in behavior or thought
Synonyms: unconventional, unusual, irregular, abnormal, off-the-wall (slang), out there (slang), heretical, dissenting, renegade, maverick (slang), counter-culture
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When I was two years old, I was puzzled by the difference between what the adults around me said with their words and what they were saying with their body language. When I “said what I saw,” their body language clearly said, “Don’t make me look.” Don’t make me look at the things I don’t want to look at.
It was clear to me that they didn’t want me to “see” them, and most of all, it was clear they didn’t want to hear what I saw. I kept on “seeing,” but I stopped “saying.”
Other instances quickly unfolded that led me to think that I was somehow different than those around me. I didn’t know why this was so. All I knew was that it was as if I was a different species.
I was very obedient and generally shy, so no one knew that inwardly I did not accept their thinking or values. I questioned everything, and felt lost and at sea most of the time, so I kept to myself when I could and occupied myself with reading, drawing, and playing with what toys I was allowed to have as a girl who was more interested in building things and in chemistry sets than I was in the dolls and tea set I had been given to prepare me for the life my parents had envisioned for me.
By the time I was eight years old, I realized that there was nowhere that I was fully received. Not in my family, not in school, and not anywhere else. No one really wanted me as I truly was or wanted what I had to offer, so I decided that I would go away and come back when I was out on my own.
Even then, I somehow knew that a day would come when I would be out on my own, away from my family and my childhood home. Even then, I knew that I wasn’t going to follow the path my parents had laid out for me, that I wasn’t going to marry young, have children and stay near them. It came as a clear knowing: Something in me knew where I was going, and I decided to trust that it would lead me there.
When I was ten years old, I stood in the hall outside of the science classroom and proclaimed, “When I grow up, I will be a scientist in Berkeley, California.” Twelve years later, I was a scientist, working for the University of California in Berkeley, California, but when I was ten, I had never even heard of Berkeley, California. Something in me knew all of that, too, but I had no idea what that something was.
When I finally moved to California, my mother made sure I had someone there to connect with. It turned out that I had a second cousin living in Redwood City, just south of San Francisco. I originally lived in Oakland, but moved to San Francisco after I changed jobs and saw my cousin more often after that. At some point, she told me I was “counterculture,” but I had no idea what that meant. All I could think of at the time was that whoever I voted for never got elected, so I just assumed I was different and let it go at that.
That was a very long time ago, and that “something” inside me kept directing me through the many twists and turns of my life. Outwardly, I conformed to the world around me, but it was if I led two separate lives: the one that others could see and the one I kept tucked away inside — the part of me that listened to and followed the directives of that invisible “something” that was guiding me.
I was consciously called to my spiritual path on March 9, 1981, but it wasn’t until I decided to create this web site that I was able to put my finger on the term that described my perspective — unorthodox. All of these years I had quietly gone my own way, and while I never made a fuss about any of it, I gradually rejected other views of “how it is” and formulated my own in their place. This took place in many stages, over my entire life, and eventually I just outgrew the ideas that I had been taught and came to my own conclusions, based on my experiences and observations. I want to share my experiences, insights and conclusions with you here, and if you resonate with them, perhaps you are “unorthodox,” too.