Every new acquaintance starts with the question “what do you do for a living”. And, in an era with a high regard for successful and extraordinary lives, we always try to give a spectacular answer to impress the person asking that question. Let’s face it, we all want to be adored and become a subject of someone’s interest. Of course, nobody wants to be tagged as a social misfit.
Although the question seems like a harmless ice breaker, it’s actually one of the reasons why depression is through the roof these days.
The truth is, we’re living in a society where the level of respect you get from people depends on your answer to the question “what do you do for a living”.
Answer something like you’re a businessman, an engineer or a doctor, and you’ll instantly become the apple of their eye.
If your answer is not-so spectacular, they will likely leave you alone or think that you’re a social misfit.
I, meanwhile, don’t give a fuck if I’m labeled as a social misfit. On the contrary, I embrace my role as a social misfit.
And, on our scenic hike in Naga, I realized how spectacular it is to live an “unspectacular life”. I know the life of a social misfit isn’t alluring in our modern culture rife with influencers. But, trust me, there are several perks to being a social misfit.
Better and more meaningful friendships
Naga is one of my favorite day hike destinations in Cebu. With its picturesque rolling hills and laid-back ambiance, it’s truly a refreshing place to walk with nature and escape the frenzy of daily life.
Despite its rapid modernization and mainstream appeal, the city still has a plethora of hidden natural wonders and undiscovered paths.
For years, we’ve been hiking a network of overlooked and secret local paths in this Naga. And, once again, on the 4th day of 2021, we’re venturing into a unique trail that has yet to be discovered by the mainstream media.
Our hike started in Balirong Barangay Hall, which is the base to most hikes to the well-known Manayon Peak. Thanks to a flurry of social media posts, this once hidden gem has become a mainstream attraction in Naga.
But, unlike our first exploration hike to Manayon Peak in 2018, we’re taking a different route to this peak. Truthfully, I have no clue what exactly the trail looks like or how we’re going to finish it.
In the first section of our hike, we followed the concrete road that leads to Alpaco, Naga. Along the way, I had a blast talking to my ever faithful and energetic friends.
And, to me, one of the merits of being a social misfit is having genuine and loyal friends. When you choose to be yourself and live the life you want, you’re likely to develop meaningful and genuine friendships.
My friends are 100 percent real. They know all my weaknesses, strengths, eccentricities, quirks, and even some of the radical opinions. Yet, they accept me for what I am.
When you are a genuine social misfit, you don’t create a different version of yourself just to please others.
You stick out, and you don’t follow the customs and norms of society. And, people who accept you, as a social misfit, are keepers.
In the past, social misfits were suppressed and even had to face severe sentences just because their beliefs and ideals didn’t follow the status quo.
Some of the classic misfits in history include the pagans, heretics, natives and gypsies.
I know society has evolved and we now live in an age where originality and individuality are encouraged and rewarded.
Gone are the days when social misfits are tortured and beheaded for following their own paths.
Still, some of our ideas are strange and unacceptable.
So, whenever I meet someone who accepts a social misfit like me, I find a way to keep them.
Creativity without an audience
I’ve been somewhat an artist throughout my life. From composing songs to writing blogs, the Universe has blessed me with the gift of creativity and ability to paint word pictures.
But, in my younger days, I’ve felt compelled to create art not for my own personal joy and delight, but for an audience and followers to think better of me.
Today, after embracing the life of a social misfit, I’m creating art solely to be creatively satisfied. In fact, I rarely share travel tips and “how to get there” guides on my blog nowadays.
In recent years, my posts have been a lot different from the stereotypical travel blogs.
It has become more philosophical and a little weird for some.
While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I really don’t give a damn.
I don’t care if I lose readers, as long as I find my bliss and I’m creatively satisfied.
And, this hike reminds me of creating art without an audience.
No one knows this trail, except us and a few locals. You won’t see fellow hikers along the way, and nobody will appreciate our exploration because it’s unknown.
But, it’s okay.
We hike for our enjoyment, and not to impress anyone. And, like creating art without an audience, there’s no pressure on this hike.
We don’t even have a specific itinerary on this hike, meaning we can go anywhere we want, and make stops whenever we desire.
We just act on our heart’s desire to enjoy a adventure that’s utterly fulfilling and satisfying.
A social misfit sees a different version of life
As we were hiking on Naga’s scenic ranges, we bumped into a couple of friendly farmers who enthusiastically showed us the way.
I admire these people and consider them modern day heroes.
Honestly, I have plans of becoming like them in the near future.
The thing is, I don’t want a spectacular life. I’m content, and happy to live a simple life free from the dazzling colors and chaos of the modern world.
I prefer to be surrounded by trees instead of skyscrapers.
I prefer to be serenaded by birds instead of loud beats and honking cars.
And, I want to see clear skies adorned by stars instead of neon lights and state-of-the-art televisions.
In an age where ground-breaking technology reigns, this kind of life may not seem ideal for most people.
Sure, some people want to enjoy this bucolic setting for a weekend or a few days. But, they really don’t want to leave the comforts and amenities of their city life.
So, why do I yearn for this lifestyle?
Social misfits are mostly critical thinkers. That means I don’t automatically accept what I hear in the media. And, I don’t think without evaluating and looking at the different angles.
Most people, nowadays, have opinions based on what they see in mainstream media. A social misfit conforms to it from time to time, but we mostly challenge the mainstream ideas rather than accepting it automatically.
And, one of the mainstream ideas that I constantly challenge is the idea of living a spectacular, extraordinary and successful life.
Here’s the thing.
Movies and adverts continuously explain to us the appeal of fame, tropical island escapes, first-class air travel, elegant houses and expensive gadgets.
Now, I understand why people find these attractions enticing.
But, these adverts are secretly poisoning our thoughts, telling us that a good and beautiful life is built around lavish and expensive elements that most of us can’t afford.
And, when we don’t achieve these things, we start to believe that our lives are worthless.
Social misfits, however, don’t swallow this kind of poison.
We spit it, stomp it, and bury this poison on God’s green earth.
That’s why I don’t follow today’s so-called influencers. With their endless barrage of adverts and “exciting” posts, they will make you feel that your life is an absolute waste.
I’ve meet a ton of influencers ever since I started blogging, and most of them are artificial as fuck.
They don’t live in the moment when they travel. All they care about is creating “entertaining” content that would lead to a jillion followers and endorsements.
They don’t care if their content is trash. And, they certainly don’t care if their doing more harm than good.
Remember those staged “pranks”? How about those “influencers” who pranked the food delivery drivers? And, how can we forget to those riders who encourage reckless driving, and troubled couples who promote infidelity?
And, ironically, people view them as heroes.
Yes, people think that these spectacular “lifestyles” are the pathways to a fascinating life.
As a social misfit, though, I wholeheartedly believe that an ordinary or “boring” life is heroic and fascinating in its own way.
Farmers, for one, are the backbone of our society. They are heroes who provide all the food and nourishment that we need. While they don’t get the recognition they deserve, the whole population depends on them.
Also, contrary to popular belief, things that seem ordinary are heroic and quite hard to manage.
There’s true nobility and immense skill in being a housewife, raising a child and doing chores all day.
It takes a great deal of patience and courage to work from 9 to 5, dealing with endless workload, traffic and gossip.
And, it’s a heroic feat not to succumb to the rage and madness at the compromises and paradox of being alive.
Creativity and innovation
I was speechless and in awe.
I’ve hiked the trails of Naga several times before, but the emerald views on this hike still mesmerized me.
After over an hour of hiking, we found this picture-perfect vantage point.
And, in my opinion, you need to be innovative and creative to uncover a hidden, visually appealing natural wonder like this.
I didn’t plan this hike in Naga, Cebu. Actually, it was Beboy who had the vision to create this route from Balirong Barangay Hall.
I’m not sure if Beboy considers himself a social misfit like me. But, he has 2 qualities of a social misfit: innovation and creativity.
And, guess what? Innovation and creativity come from unconventional thinking.
If we conformed to the ideas of society, we wouldn’t have discovered this spot on our own. Instead, we’d be hiking the typical, crowded and common trails in Cebu City.
A social misfit lives to their potential
Soon after, we arrived at the summit of Manayon’s Peak. As I was soaking up the views, I remembered my journey as a freelance writer.
When I started working as a freelance writer, nobody thought I could sustain it. Back then, people thought it was impossible to make a living working or writing online.
Like any social misfit, I went against the grain, and created my own path. I didn’t let the teachers, politicians, life coaches, relatives and media brainwash me.
If I let those people brainwash me, I might still be doing some soul-searching today.
And, if I didn’t create my own path, no one may have known that these landscapes in Naga exist.
Heck, some of my friends might not have known each other if I wasn’t a social misfit.
Before I became a freelance writer, I owned a burgeoning business. Eventually, it went bankrupt, and soon I had to find a job where I could really live up to my potential.
I failed in business not because of lack of effort and skills.
I failed because I followed a path that wasn’t meant for me. And, I followed that path because society tells us it’s the road to a spectacular life.
Contentment is an endless treasure
From Manayon’s Peak, we hiked our way to one of our secret spots. Last time we were there, we were mesmerized by its heavenly beauty.
We had to go through a variety of obstacles, though, before we could reach this secret haven.
And, when we finally arrived there, it didn’t look as spectacular as it once was.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t a disappointing experience.
Years of being a social misfit has taught me the value of contentment. At least, I had a fun journey with my friends. At least, we discovered new routes for our future hikes.
For some reason, this experience, which deals with expectations, reminds me of living in this day and age.
The world is suffering from an epidemic of anxiety and depression triggered by the expectation that our lives will be spectacular and stellar.
But, not everyone can be like Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk.
Society has programmed us into thinking that we can be anything we want as long as we work hard for it. But, in reality, only 1 percent of the total population will have the opportunity to be as wealthy as those people.
We’ve created a world where living peacefully and ordinarily is not good enough. And, that’s why rates for suicides and depression are skyrocketing.
As a social misfit, I’m encouraging people not to be too hard on themselves.
Please, don’t torture yourself.
It’s okay to fail, it’s okay to be lost, and it’s okay not to earn a ton of money.
Take it slow, and find contentment in your life.
Contentment is the antidote to depression.
Find happiness in your friends and nature.
And, whenever someone asks you “what you do for a living”, don’t try too hard to impress them. Some of them, after all, are snobs trying to compare themselves to you.
Take it from a social misfit. Our secret lives may not be as stellar as you think. But, we do have inner peace and pure happiness.