Stay On The Path
That is pretty much the gist of what authority figures and self-appointed moral guardians say to me: get on the path to having a bloody tree up your arse, never mind a stick, and do not stray, for we consider that righteous. And who doesn't want to be righteous?
Well, I suppose I want to be righteous, in terms of doing good, but I'll pass on having the tree up my arse, thanks. I'll also pass on the guilt, repression, loathing and shame that comes with strictly following the path, and I'll definitely pass on the ignorance and unquestioning obedience that is the path's end. I know what I'm talking about here because I've tried to follow that path - and thankfully, after nearly destroying myself, I have failed. I have failed, I've quit trying to stick to that path, and I consider that a good thing because I no longer want to deny myself pleasure on account of its being dirty, wrong or a sin. Nor do I try to repress and deny myself, and I don't shame others and call myself righteous. It's a better existence than it has been. Besides, going off the path is fun: I've done things that by all logic I should regret, and yet I don't. I enjoyed myself, I learned a few things, and no-one got hurt. I learned more than I would have done if I stayed on the path, at any rate. And ignorance hurts.
This is not to say that every time you go off the path it's holy, hallowed and fucking awesome - stupidity is everywhere, and Sturgeon's Law is a good rule to apply (when I say it's a good rule to apply, I make an understatement; I pretty much live my life according to the precept that 90% of everything is shit and prepare accordingly, which saves me from getting my heart broken and my mind torn to shreds). Trying to do anything without seriously questioning and thinking generally doesn't end well.
I suppose what I'm really trying to say is: don't be a sheep. Think for yourself. Choose your own path. Always doubt and follow your doubts to their logical conclusion. Fuck everyone else and their opinions with a shovel, because they don't matter nearly as much. I wish I could say it was easy, but it's not. It is sometimes very difficult and painful and uncomfortable. I also wish I could say with any certainty that it was the right path, but I haven't been around long enough to know. I'll just say this: a life lived one's own way is not always a happy way to live, but it's more fulfilling than being constantly anxious, repressed and torn up with guilt at whose path to follow.
Make your own path. Follow that and change it as you will.