When I was a kid I didn't care what anyone thought of me. I mean I was fearless, independent and marched to the beat of my own, out of tune, drum. And I loved every second of it.
At five it was refusing to wear matching socks. I mean what a waste of two perfectly good opportunities for self expression? At eight it was wearing purple leggings, white cowboy boots, and brightly colored sweaters to free dress day at my British elementary school. All the other little girls wore perfect little dresses and Mary Janes. At ten it was my teacher calling my mom and telling her I simply could not continue bringing books to read on the playground during recess. I had to leave my own little world and actually play with the other kids. At eleven it was my moms utter shock when I got up on stage during a school talent show and belted out the Spice Girls Wannabe at the top of my lungs. My outfit during the performance spoke for itself. At twelve it was a pair of patent leather riding boots I'd picked out on a trip to London. My teachers actually made fun of me. I laughed it off and told them they didn't know anything about fashion.
And then I hit middle school. I started dressing like the other kids. I started trying to fit in. I got a little scared. It stayed like that through high school, through college, and through a good part of my early 20s. Not all the fearlessness went away. I still bombed down ski slopes, backpacked the world, and pushed myself to try new things. But that fun loving, carefree spirit faded a little bit.
Maybe thats just what growing up does to us, but I want some of that crazy, mix-matched socks wearing, trend setting, off tune singing kid back. Yes there comes a point in life where we have to be serious sometimes, but why can't we bring a little more fun, playfulness into our adult life?
I've been trying to. The moment I knew I'd succeeded came when I got a text message from a coworker laughing at how they'd seen me singing and dancing in my car on the feeder road on my way home from work one night. It wasn't so much that I'd been doing those things, but the fact that instead of being utterly mortified at being caught I'd burst out laughing and had a huge smile on my face.
What is it that brings back that childlike carefree nature in us as adults? For me, its being around my close friends, the ones I know I can be totally and completely myself with. Its going out, laughing my head off, and acting like a total idiot. And its something I plan on doing a whole lot more of.
Life is too short to worry about what others say or think about you. So have fun and give them something to talk about
For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.- Cynthia Occelli
I remember the first time I saw this phrase on a lululemon shopping bag. I was working there at the time and went around talking to coworkers about why we thought putting that on the bag was a good idea?!?!
It sounded so sinister to me. Demise? Really? Was this what we wanted our customers walking out of the store thinking about. But the more I got to thinking about it the more I understand the value of the statement... and even the bold way it was phrased. After I'd noticed it, I couldn't stop thinking about it.
Nobody wants to think about their death. Its not a nice thing to think about, but I think its an important way to get some perspective. I came across an article today about a palliative nurse who worked with patients while they were dying. Over many years she interviewed them and came up with the top five regrets people had when they looked back on their lives. They were:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Looking over the article from a personal point of view I realized how much of what they said resonated with me. I am constantly at battle with myself, having a strong desire to live a life I truly love and at the same time feeling pressured by society to live the life I "should" be living. For the past year and a half I've been in constant inquiry with myself around this subject, trying new things and pushing myself in ways I never did before. For me, it took a complete shaking of my entire world to get me to a place where I actually started to think about these things. It took hitting rock bottom; the end of my marriage, moving back to the states, no job, no friends in Houston, for me to start thinking about what I really wanted and what would really make me happy. It took having all the comforts taken away from me to start thinking about how I wanted to rebuild.
Its easy to stay comfortable, to stay in the confines of what we know. Its easier than pushing out of our comfort zones, trying something that makes us vulnerable, and potentially failing. But it also means that a lot of us never live to our fullest potential, accomplish our goals, and live in a way that truly makes us happy. I know I'm guilty of it. But maybe spending a little time thinking about what I'd have done differently if I knew my time on this earth was almost up will help me break out of that a little bit.
So I challenge you to think about it, what changes can you make today so that you don't have these five regrets in the future?