Being first is a national pastime. The World Cup, the World Series, the Super Bowl, and now being the first celebrity to announce being transgender has taken society to a new and more inclusive level. 

To be different used to be a curse. The goal was to fit in and be part of the group. Even dating outside of one’s religion was considered “dangerous” and wrong. As a teenager, I remember the angst and confusion I experienced when I wanted to date a girl who wasn’t Jewish.

With a lot of anxiety I brought up the issue to my uncle, the goto adult when a troublesome issue plagued me. 

“So Uncle Bill, I kind of have a problem,” I said, during a slow time at the auto accessory store where I worked for him.

“What kind of problem?”

“I want to take out this girl. She’s really nice…, but she’s not Jewish.”

He nodded and said, “So what’s the problem?”

“She’s not Jewish.”

He nodded again and said, “So what’s the problem?”

I just stared at him, comprehension and relief overtaking me. “Thanks,” I said. “Thanks a lot”.

Validation and permission were and often are important. Uncle Bill’s reaction to a young Bruce Jenner asking what he should do about feeling like a girl, even though he is a boy, might have required a lot more thought and exploration. But, if the Uncle I so fondly remember stays true to my memory, he would have eventually hugged Bruce and supported his decision.

To support someone whose ideas and life seem not only “out of the box” but on a different planet, is not easy. It calls on us to ACCEPT what we instinctively feel to be wrong. To really hear and respect the right for an individual to be different from what “everyone” says he should be.

Often agreeing with “Everyone” is just another way of being safe and not taking the time and risk to evaluate what you really believe. Standing up against the majority always takes courage and the intellectual strength and curiosity to pose the question, “What do I really think?” And,”Do I have the courage to back up my idea with action?”

Bruce Jenner is a brave man. His courage will surely help other men and women have a better life. 

Art Smukler is an award-winning psychiatrist and author of Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.
Sent from my iPhone

REINVENTION IS THE ELIXIR OF YOUTH, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder where all the years have gone. What happened to my dark hair? Who is that “older” guy staring back at me?

A new blog follower, Deborah, related that she is going to become a social worker at the age of 59. She feels a new sense of freedom, a chance to really be herself. Deborah got me thinking. It was just a few years ago that I decided to self-publish my novels and start a blog.

I thought a blog was where the Loch Ness monster lived. Twitter was a silly social media game where people could announce what they had for breakfast. Linked-in was another name for prisoners in a chain gang, and Facebook was just another waste of time. Boy did I have a lot to learn.

It took a visit to Barnes & Noble and a bag full of “Social Media for Idiots” books to get the real picture. I was the clueless idiot, not the rest of the world. The learning curve was harder than I thought, but I figured that if I could get through medical school and a psychiatric residency, I could do this.

Reinventing ourselves is not as hard as it sounds. It “merely” entails shedding the need to be defensive and protective of what you’ve become. It’s not weak to admit that there are millions of people out there who can teach you something. The something can be anything that interests you.

My Uncle Bill received his Phd in psychology not too long before he went on Social Security. When he would visit from the East Coast, I remember him wandering the streets of Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach looking for small artifacts to add to his collection of Jungian figures. Anything that could help a patient get in touch with his true inner-self was something that excited him. He died in his eighties, a very happy, young man.

What better than my thoughts on reinvention to commemorate my 100th post…

If you enjoy being Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.