Growing up, no one knew quite what to do with a free spirit like me. I saw things differently. I still do. I was also far more perceptive far more quickly than was comfortable at times for the adults in my world. I felt things deeper than most. And I was handed some very grown up problems when everyone else my age was still playing with dolls. I didn’t know I was different until people tried to change me, until they tried to reign me in and contain me.
For too many years I lived trapped in the ideas others had for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, these weren’t necessarily bad ideas. I believe now these came from a place of love and a need to protect and not necessarily from a place of hate and intolerance. But they were most certainly the wrong fit for me. They crushed instead of protected me. I wrestled for years with trying to be what everyone else thought I should or shouldn’t be. This struggle almost destroyed me. The truth is, the circumstances of my childhood combined with my unique perspective and passionate spirit created quite the perfect storm in the conservative world I was born into. (Not an unfamiliar story for a creative spirit I suppose).
We can only teach what we know. And sadly, in my younger years, no one knew how to speak my language. So I tried to adapt to make everyone else more comfortable. I smothered my insides. I tried to become another thing they could love or be proud of. It didn’t work.
Instead….I lost the pieces that made me beautiful. I lost the ability to see those pieces as good. I lost the fire within that made me…well, Me.
In fact, it was almost extinguished completely at one point.
Mercifully, there have been a few incredible people sprinkled throughout my story, who saw the fire beneath and were not afraid to see it unleashed. In fact, they encouraged her release. They have watched and encouraged and fueled this release in the last few years with such grace and enthusiasm and wise guidance. They have become the stokers of the flames. They are the reason I am now on a journey towards finding my brave. They are the reason I’m finally chasing my dreams. They are the reason I’m coming out of hiding.
We were never meant to hide ourselves away. Living under that kind of pressure is bound to give at some point. Luckily, when mine gave, it didn’t destroy others in its wake. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case for some. We are all meant to play a unique part in this life, both large and small. And we were never all meant to play the same parts in the same ways. As I listen to the stories of the people around me, I’m realizing how often this crushing of the spirit is not so unusual. I’m not alone in my struggle to reclaim my spirit.
It is only now, in the marvelous season of my thirty-something’s, that I am finally grasping on to my fire despite other’s fear. It is only now, that I am finally letting that fire burn through the layers of my past.
And it feels incredible… like new life and hope and possibilty.
It’s all because there were those who chose to stay the course with me through my years of hiding. It’s because there were those who saw my truth clearly and loved me for it, not in spite of it. And it’s because there were those who knew that the little girl who always marched to the beat of her own music, was never meant to be controlled, but meant instead to simply burn a little brighter than usual.
It’s human to be afraid of the things we do not understand or cannot control. But it’s also human to overcome those fears and find the beauty that lies beneath in all of us somewhere. I hope everyone is blessed enough to have the kind of people sprinkled throughout their stories that I have, the kind of people that stay despite the struggle and fan the flames no one else understands. If you’re lucky enough to find them, hold on to them with everything you have. And, return the favor along the way.
When we choose to see past our own fears and the fears of others, incredible things can happen. A spark can turn into a flame… and change everything.
An illusion lasts only so long.
Masks crumble and fall apart.
Armor grows rusty with age.
What was once meant as protection,
becomes instead a lifeless prison.
Eventually the fire beneath burns through,
bringing either destruction….
Or new life.
Those who know the beauty of what this fire can accomplish,
do not run,
And rather than smother the flames,
They stoke them,
releasing them higher,
in hopes of what could be.