This photo makes me smile, mostly because I want to be that old woman. I have always believed that the ultimate freedom is being yourself. It is a freedom many of us will never fully know. Yet with this freedom comes power. In this old, eccentric lady, I see power that no one can take away. It’s the kind of power that comes with loving and accepting yourself as you are, and expressing who you are, without apologies, excuses, or justification.
Wouldn’t that be lovely?
I think it would, which got me humming this old Stevie Wonder tune. Hope you enjoy!
I was raised to care what people thought of me. I knew instinctively that my actions and behaviors were not solely my own. They represented my entire family.
I understood that I was supposed to be good, follow the rules, be an asset to my family and community. Instead, as a teenager, I was naughty, broke rules, and became a liability.
In my 20s, sensitive now to disapproval, I became a people pleaser. Desperate for acceptance, and to prove I wasn’t a royal screw up, I adapted my personality and goals to meet others’ expectations. Convinced that my true self was fundamentally flawed, I buried her, deep.
It is only now, in midlife, that I am beginning the process of excavating her.
I want back some of what I buried. I want the passion, the creativity, the wildness. I want the ultimate feeling of freedom that comes with being one’s self regardless of whether or not others approve. I want these things with the benefit of life experience and without the teenage drama.
I understand now what I didn’t for years: When you are authentic, you attract like-minded people and the right set of circumstances. This is more important than trying to win the approval of people who will never understand or appreciate the real you.