I was always told I was a strong, feisty and argumentative little girl. Often, standing beside my more proper, well put together cousins (we were always together) I was fidgety, obstinate and quite clearly not interested in looking the part of a well-behaved girl. Knee socks at my ankles, skirt askew, anything but a proper smile; I didn't want any part of the pretty-girl parade. My facial expressions always gave me away - whether it was an eye roll or a scrunched nose at being asked to stand still or say please and thank you. And let's be honest, I still have a facial expression issue at 39.
The force inside to always respond with "don't tell me what to do!" was strong with this one. I wasn't often MISbehaved, but I wasn't WELL behaved, either. In grade 1 I got a note home from my teacher that said "I think Janis is allergic to her chair" because I just didn't sit in it. I was standing or on the floor - anywhere but on the chair. If I were a 6 year old today, I likely would have been diagnosed with ADHD.
The problem with being labeled certain things at a young age is that some traits are seen as negative. As we grow, we tend to identify with what we've been told we are and are not, and we feel shame. Eventually, many girls like me shut up, clean up and quell our emotions because we don't want to be seen as too much. It's unattractive and unbecoming and no one wants "too much".
I have struggled with myself for as long as I can remember. I feel a lot; want a lot; get passionate about many things and get excited and frustrated, all very easily. My intuition is strong and I love hard when the circumstances allow. It's very difficult for me to not burst with these emotions (I am an Aries, after all!) But I've tried. I've tried for years to subdue myself to be more palatable for some people. And I've betrayed myself. I've deprived myself and others of the joy that flows when I'm ME.
Religion, family dynamics, culture and trauma have all played a part in me dulling my shine. There came a time when I was done, though. My body was very clearly telling me that if I kept denying and stuffing these parts of myself, the consequences would be dire. Panic attacks, anxiety, digestive issues and hypochondria overtook me. It was when my marriage crumbled that I knew I was at a fork in the road. I had choices to make and work to do.
The road I took was a scary one. It required me to be vulnerable to myself. And someone else. Leap into the unknown. If I was going to choose to really, truly be ME, I had to be all in. Then came a love that I knew was for me. From the outside looking in, it seemed insane! It was too soon. I was 37, he was 27. I was just coming out of a broken 18-year relationship (my first and only) with 3 kids. He had no kids. He had baggage of his own and it just seemed like too much, logically. Spiritually and emotionally, though...that was something else. What the relationship asked was only for me to be fully and completely myself. And for the first time, I was able to do that. I was given the space and the grace to work on myself and discover my passions again - sing, dance, immerse myself in yoga, to love and be loved.
I feel like I've lost my original point here, so let's swing back around. I am approaching 40 and I am so excited! I can now see the beauty in my unique wildness. I am reconnecting with that little girl, and I friggin' love her! I endeavour to be more like her again: Wild, carefree, full of firey life and passion.
We all have a wildness. It comes in many forms. It's in all of the elements and parts of the elements are in each of us - fire, air, water and earth. Wildness doesn't always present as big feelings and uproarious moments, like a fire. It's in the gusts of the wind that stokes the fire but also cools it. It shows in the swells and stillness of the ocean, pulled by the moon. It's in the groundedness of the earth, which gives life and stability. If we took the time and allowed ourselves to be open to it, many of us would see that what we were taught to question about ourselves might actually be the very things that heal and help us, and others, to become whole again. Working together, in each of our wild ways...can you even imagine??