When I was younger, I was known as a free spirit. I skipped when others walked, made everyday conversations into songs, climbed the tallest trees, and did cartwheels into swimming pools. I didn’t want to be put into a box. I wanted to be free to be me.
I’m not sure when it began, but over time, my free-spiritedness has slowly faded. The weirdest (and sort of sad) thing about it is that I didn’t even realize it. When my (now) husband, Chuck, and I were writing the “About Us” section of our wedding website last year, I described myself as a free spirit. Chuck laughed and said, “You’re not a free spirit! You love to follow the rules!”
Woah…talk about eye-opening. (Cue the existential crisis.)
I protested at first, but then I realized that he was probably right. Somewhere along the way, some of my spark, my Joie de Vivre, had fizzled. How did I not see that?
When I was little, my hair was so blonde that it was almost white. Strange as it may seem, my identity was very much wrapped up in my hair color. My hair gradually darkened a bit over the years, and when I was in 9th or 10th grade, someone referred to me as having brown hair. What?!?! Although I looked in the mirror everyday, I somehow missed that my hair had officially switched over. Because I identified myself as a blonde, and it was (and still is) a big part of who I perceive myself to be, I began highlighting my hair almost immediately. I wanted to recapture the real me, the me I like the best.
I think my identity as a blonde and my identity as a free spirit are similar. I know I’m still fun and adventurous. I love life. But…something is different. I understand that not being a free spirit is okay, just like being a brunette is okay. But…I want to be a blonde, and I want to be a free spirit, too. It is a big part of what I value about myself.
So what happened? Where did my free spirit go? And how do I regain my title as a free spirit extraordinaire?
As I’ve aged, I think my insecurities have affected me. My complacency has affected me. My fear has affected me. The good news is, now that I realize this, I can get my spark back! It may seem oxymoronic to make a conscious effort to be free-spirited, but guess what? I make the rules for me! Isn’t that what being a free spirit is all about?
I’m going to stop making my first thought, “how will the people around me perceive what I’m about to do?” And instead start thinking, “why do I want to do this?”
I’m going to do random handstands in Gisborne, New Zealand because it’s fun. I’m going to do a heel click in Tauranga, New Zealand because I’m having a great time.
And I’m going to play on the swings just because they are there and I can.
So, who’s with me? I may never arrive, but reviving the free spirit within me will sure make the journey more fun!