Are you one of these people who are called ‘difficult’, a rebel, a troublemaker? Susan Smit wrote you a letter.
Your heartbeat raises, the injustice is pulsating in your temples, every inch of you is revolting – because what’s happening is not just, not true. And there you go, you fly off the handle. Right then and there, your voice cracking; or some time after, carefully prepared. You don’t just let things happen, you speak your mind. For yourself, for someone else, or for the greater good.
If you, dear stubborn one, are a man, you will probably be regarded as outspoken and bloody-minded. If you’re a woman, people will probably label you ‘hysterical’ and ‘difficult’ and in earlier times, you would have risked being put away in a mental institution (diagnosis: neurotic).
You, with your emotions lying on the surface, who can be read like an open book, you just don’t want to play the game. The game of pretending, of keeping up with the Joneses, playing by the rules and conforming, I mean. The people who do play that game build a career for themselves, they want to be liked, are pleasant company and seem to live their lives without making an effort. You, on the other hand, don’t know how to conform and you don’t want to. You know the rules, you just don’t want to follow them if that means you have to turn your back on who you are and what’s right.
Every time I give a lecture at a high school I meet young stubborn ones, like you probably were. Some of them are dressed in black, behave grouchy and reclusive; others wear colourful, edgy clothes and are very talkative, but they have one thing in common: they’re sensitive, have a big sense of justice and are dedicated to the truth. They’ve just found out that life isn’t fair, and each of them rejects the system, all in their own way. I know what they’re like. My dear big brother was just like them.
If, in your darkest moments, the world seems like a hypocritical and opportunistic place and you think about giving up, then focus on the brittle things. All things innocent, that you defend with your sharp sword: the children, the shy ones, the vulnerable ones who don’t speak up. Look at them, hold your head up high and keep telling the truth. In order for a new direction to be found, one of us has to have the guts to walk off the tracks.
Sometimes, people will judge you for your harsh way of saying something or your dramatic methods. The form will be used against you, while it’s usually the meaning of your message that doesn’t suit them. If you can manage not to let it get to you, being misunderstood, judged and mocked, you’re free. If you live your life the way you are without thinking twice about ‘how it’s supposed to be’ or what makes you successful in society, and if you’re willing to constantly reflect on your beliefs, you have an irrepressible power and nothing can stop you.
The world needs difficult people. Rebels, troublemakers. People who protest and intervene. Who don’t just accept something because it’s ‘normal’. Think about it: every form of change, improvement and civilisation against the stream was caused by people like you.
Dear tumultuous one, maintain your fire and use it for the greatest good. You need courage, sincerity and dedication for that, and sometimes it seems to be pointless, but your voice makes a difference and so do your actions. Time doesn’t play with us, as you very well know; we play with time.
With love and respect for who you are,
Text: Susan Smit – Photo: Gabriel Nunes