When I was a little girl I loved to play hide and seek. I loved to run through sprinklers and ride my bike as fast as I could down a hill. I loved to swim and climb up high and leap down, imagining I was swimming the ocean deep or leaping from great heights. My favourite book was “What Katie Did” and anything with Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden in the title. Now those girls did things! They solved mysteries and crimes and found lost things and took care of business!
When I was a little girl I didn’t understand why girls couldn’t do everything boys did. I didn’t understand why girls had to be ‘all sugar and spice’. I wanted to get down and dirty running barefoot in the mud. I wanted to skin my knees crawling through rain culverts and sleep out under the stars deep in the forest and be fearless and free.
I didn’t want to have to worry about boogie men in the dark and wild beasts roaming the forest deep. I didn’t want to have to worry about keeping my dress clean, or what would the neighbours think.
But I did. And in worrying about all those things, my life became prescribed by all those things I worried about.
In my twenties, I lived in a house surrounded by trees on a hillside deep in the forest. I loved to run outside in the rain and run barefoot through the mud. I loved to stand deep in the forest and howl at the full moon. I loved to dance as if no one was watching and sit on the forest floor practicing laughing yoga.
In my twenties, I worked hard, doing the same job as ‘a man’, earning ‘a man’s keep’. But I never felt equal. I never felt I held the same value.
I thought it was because of the lessons of my youth that taught me men held the upper hand in life. I thought it was the world, out there, dictating who and how I was in the world. I thought it was ‘their’ fault.
And then I had daughters. How could I teach them of their infinite worth if I didn’t believe in mine?
I set out to find me.
I am older now. My daughters young women making their way in the world. Through our journey together I have fallen, many times, in many ways, to many depths. But always, it didn’t matter that I fell, what mattered most was that I stood up again. What mattered most was that I found my way, again. That I began, again. That I stepped free of what was to become what is, right now, right here, again and again and again because I wanted my daughters to know, we all fall in life. It’s just what happens. But we don’t all get back up — even when we can. And I wanted them to know, it was the standing up again that made the difference, not the falling down.
I am standing tall now. Standing tall and being all that I can be because I have quit believing who I need to be is dictated to by a world that frightens me. And that’s what makes the biggest difference in my life today. Being unafraid of the world ‘out there’ because I know, in here I am safe. I am me.
I still like to run barefoot in the mud, howl at the full moon and practice laughing yoga. I still like to ride my bike as fast as I can down hills and swim deep beneath the surface. I still believe in magic. I still see miracles everywhere. I still love to feel the sun on my skin, the wind at my back.
I still like to dance like nobody’s watching.
What I have found in the search for me is that while those things are fun and freeing, they are not what makes the difference. What makes the difference is that I am me. You are you. We are each our own unique selves, living life our way, creating more of what makes a difference, doing less of what hurts the world and ourselves.
Years ago I set out to find myself and discovered I was always there. I was always within, waiting for me to find the key to letting go of blaming the world, ‘out there’ for how I felt, inadequate, worthless, little, small… whatever I told myself I was that was keeping me from living my best self yet.
The difference, I have found, is not in what is going on in the world out there. The difference is what is happening inside me. It’s in how I see myself, not how the world sees me.
The difference is in being me.