WordPress is telling me that this is my 100th post. In almost five years, I’ve managed to sit down and write something on this blog 10o times. For some people, that won’t seem like a lot. But for me, it is. It could have been more. It could have been less. But I made it to 100. Each word I put down here has been one less word, one less worry, one less burden to carry on my own. Here, I can lay them down and let them be. I can come back to them if I need to, but the words, the worries, the burdens, aren’t mine to carry alone anymore.
I had an idea a while back. It went something like this: We don’t change as we get older. We just stop trying to change. The more we stop trying to change, the more we come back to who we really are.
Allow me to elaborate a bit.
As children, we do what we love without much thought. We sing, dance, play, create and express ourselves fully and joyfully. When you are fully self-expressed, how can you be anything less than joyful? We lean towards those who show us love and kindness, and we avoid those who are mean and hurtful.
At some point as we get older, we start to change. We stop singing, dancing and playing. We start changing who we are – who we BE – to fit a mould or a stereotype or an ideal or an image. Our life gets overtaken by shoulds and shouldn’ts.
I should take this job.
I shouldn’t wear stripes and polka dots.
I should study that subject.
I shouldn’t sing in public.
I should. I shouldn’t. I should. I shouldn’t.
And mostly we get so stuck wondering and worrying about what other people think about who we are and what we’re up to, that we forget about I am, and I love and I’m happy. We change away from who we are, turning into some version of ourselves that we don’t quite recognize. We accept people in our life who makes us feel bad. We do things we don’t love – and don’t do things we do love – because we feel like we should. Or shouldn’t. We have to, or can’t, or not right now, or maybe later.
And my favourite: One day.
One day I’ll start painting again.
One day I’ll exercise.
One day I’ll have dinner with my old friend.
One day I’ll write that book.
One day I’ll open my own business.
One day…some day…
This leads to all kinds of drama. All the Who am I? questions and What’s my purpose? questions and I need to find myself inquiries. And then we read books (and blogs!) and talk to therapists and friends and listen to tapes and listen to Oprah and then something happens…
We find ourselves drifting away from those people who make us feel bad. We find ourselves colouring again. Or running. Or playing the piano. Or whatever it is that brings us joy. We stop worrying about what other people will think, and just live our lives with a little more love.
And we’re happy.
People say “You’ve changed.”
No, you haven’t.
You’re back to being you. Back to who you were always meant to be.
You’ve stopped changing.
Driving home yesterday afternoon, I saw a little girl walking in the rain, going to the library. She was dressed up for Halloween, wearing a tattered black and red skirt, a black veil and some crazy makeup. I’m not sure what she was dressed up as, but she looked creepy and interesting – perfect for a 10-year-old girl on Halloween.
As I was watching her, she walked for a few steps, then skipped a few steps, and then started running, and then skipped again, and then jumped in a puddle, and then hopped a bit, then she sprinted up the steps to the library and disappeared with her black veil trailing behind her. And in the 15 seconds I watched her, I was flooded with emotion.
I was so happy to see this happy little girl. I loved that she was oblivious to the world around her, and doing her thing however she felt like doing it. She didn’t care who was watching her. She skipped when she wanted to. She jumped when she wanted to. She ran when she felt like it, and stopped when it suited her. She wasn’t hurting anybody, she was being who she felt like being in that moment, not thinking about who may be watching, who may be judging.
I would love to skip down the street instead of walk, but I don’t. I love jumping in puddles, but I’ll only do it if there is someone to jump with me. I would love to wear a black, birdcage veil on a Wednesday afternoon just because, but I don’t. Because I know people are watching. Because I think people are watching. Because I worry that people are watching.
Though I can’t remember it now, I’m sure there was a time in my life when I wasn’t acutely aware of my surroundings – wondering who’s watching and whispering behind my back. A time when I wore something out of the ordinary because I thought it was pretty or interesting. A time when I jumped in puddles alone, or ran and stopped and ran and stopped because it suited my fancy. I’m sure we all had a time like that. When did we lose it? And why?
I would love to go back in time to the days when I didn’t worry about what others thought, and I did what I wanted to – what I loved – because I loved it. Wore something unique, skipped down the sidewalk, and sang to myself regardless of who was around. A time when the world was there for me, instead of me simply occupying space in the world.
Of course, I can’t go back in time. But maybe – for just a little while – I can try jumping in puddles, skipping down the sidewalk, and singing to myself without worrying what the guy behind me is thinking. I can’t go back to oblivion, but I can try a new state of being – not giving a hoot.