Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I am ready to be ME.

I love music.  It helps me make sense of life in a way almost nothing else can.  At different periods of time in my life, a particular song becomes a theme song - an anthem of my life, if you will. Right now, in my life- a time of change and turmoil (some would call it a mid-life crisis), I have so many things going on inside my head and heart that it is difficult to pin-point one song that says it all. Because I am all over the place emotionally, I turn more toward a line here or there in several songs that resonate with me presently.

One such line is from the song Defying Gravity, sung in the musical, Wicked. It says "Something has changed within me. Something is not the same. I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game." I have spent more than a few years of my life playing by the rules of someone else's game. I am done. That is not to say that I'd like to become a social malaprop. I know I have to live within certain boundaries of socially acceptable behavior. I just want to shed my social mask and spread my free spirited wings a bit. I am no longer interested in doing what is expected simply because others want me to.

It is my belief that God made every person as an individual, with specific personality traits, gifts and characteristics because he meant for us to use these things to our advantage. Not for ourselves alone, but to the advantage of humanity as a whole. It just makes sense.

If everyone is using his or her strengths to their best ability, then things will (in a cosmic sense) come together very nicely in the world. Otherwise, there is chaos- everyone trying to conform to a homogeneous, socially acceptable mold. There is no one size fits all when it comes to life, and comparing and contrasting oneself to anyone else is a futile exercise and not advantageous to the big picture of humankind in any way.

It's hard to know who our authentic, God given, self is if we spend most of our life playing by the rules of someone else's game. How do we shed the game, find out who we are, and allow our core personality its freedom, while still maintaining our relationships with others?

Unfortunately, it not always easy. In my quest to live my authentic life, I have had to take a hard look, not only at myself, but also at those I surrounded myself with.  In some situations, I had to make some painful decisions. Not out of cruelty, but out of growth; I shed some relationships and put up some boundaries. I sometimes second guessed these decisions, because the guilt of leaving relationships behind built up, but in the end, I looked at my life as a whole, and realized that I can't please everyone.  I had to forget what was behind and press on.

Returning again to some powerful song lyrics which have spoken to me more than once in my life is Sanctus Real's song Whatever You're Doing. It goes: "It's time for healing. It's time to move on. It's time to fix what's been broken too long...re-evaluate who I really am." Presently, this is where my life seems to be,  it's time for the healing - time to move on, and live as..., well... ME.  I am somewhat unsure what that life looks like, because it has been many years since I have allowed myself to be authentically ME.  A very, very long time.

When I think back, to myself as a little girl, I remember a girl who was in love with life. She was deeply passionate about people and loved to take care of others. She had a vivid imagination and could make up stories in her head - playing make-believe for hours on end as the stories spun around her. That little girl wasn't bogged down by obligation, or constrained by the fact that she didn't quite fit the mold of the masses. 

She didn't know that not everyone lived inside their own head, but it didn't bother her; she was happy. Unfortunately life took its toll on that little girl. She found out that certain things were expected of her - she was pushed to conform to the norm, and somehow she lost herself in the process. Praise God, she is lost no more. She is ready to shake things up, be herself and let the chips fall where they may.

I'm not naive. I know that I live in a world where I continue to have responsibilities, people count on me for certain things. I can live with that knowledge. What I will no longer live with is the guilt when I am not pleasing everyone around me. I have freed myself from that impossible burden. 

I am not responsible for the actions or the reactions of others. They bring their own burdens, expectations and prejudices into their lives. I can only control myself and my reactions to others, within the confines of who I am. I am ready to start living as I always should have; the way my God intended me to. I have no doubt that he has terrific things in store for me. I can't wait.