This past Saturday, I was enjoying the outdoors with my son doing what he loves best: playing soccer. The air was fresh and crisp as fallen leaves crunched beneath our feet, and warm rays of sunshine cast their glow through the bare branches of the trees. We chased after the ball, laughing and battling for possession. Each of us kicked the ball fervently toward our own end of the yard, hoping to get a score. Surprisingly, after only a few minutes, I was up 2-1, but I knew my son would be on the move and tying the game before long. What I didn’t anticipate was what happened next. We were racing after the ball – as we had done a hundred times before – when a searing pain shot through my right foot. Immediately, I stopped running. When I put pressure on it, the pain returned with increasing intensity, and I knew I was done with soccer for the day. After limping through the back door, I landed on the couch. Frustrated, I placed an ice pack on my foot as my husband went out to finish the game for me. I was totally bummed!
This first week of November has been incredibly mild in New England. With temperatures in the upper 60’s, I have spent as much time outdoors as possible knowing that the cold days of winter aren’t too far away. I love being in nature. Whether it’s a hike in the woods or a walk on the beach, being outside helps me feel my connection with the Earth. It calms me like nothing else.
With Halloween right around the corner, I went to my local Party City store and was amazed to see the assortment of elaborate costumes and feathered accessories littering the shelves. But, what surprised me even more was the abundant selection of masks. Some were gruesome and scary while others were ornate and very beautiful. I imagined myself hiding behind different ones. I realized people’s reactions to me would vary greatly depending on which mask I chose. I could frighten or impress – make people want to know me or make people run away. The power of a mask was simply remarkable.
Recently, I went for an angel card reading. And whether or not you believe in angels, that isn’t what this week’s message is about. It’s about the messages we receive (though they can come from many sources) and what we choose to do with that information.
One of the cards I drew during my reading was the “Express Your Individuality” card. It really made me realize how much I had conformed to the world around me without even noticing it. I realized that my thoughts are often focused on the things I need to accomplish and my wardrobe resembles that of most other people I know: yoga pants, jeans, plain t- shirts (most of you probably have these things somewhere in your closet). I guess I never really wanted to stand out too much. But somehow, in the midst of this, I had lost my individuality. The little girl inside me was trapped. She wanted to come out and express herself – to be creative. She wanted to wear exotic flower patterns and have short, pink hair. Clearly, I expressed myself much more when I was younger. But, then social norms and other people’s expectations got in the way. Funny, how it happened and I never even seemed to notice – like a shroud slowly encompassing me, smothering my originality.
In a world dominated by social media, people’s opinions matter more than ever. Why do we care so much about what other people think? Why does someone else’s opinion matter more than our own? And, should it?
Authenticity is a word I have come to value. It’s about being who you are, always. It’s not changing your ideals based upon who you’re with. It’s about acceptance of who you are and what you believe. But in that acceptance, you also accept others exactly as they are – no judgment, no snide comments – just people trying to find their way.