Growing up I felt that I was truly a rebel. I marched to the beat of my own drum and I felt that I did things by my own rules. I defied the wishes of my parents, and hung out with some kids they didn’t think were a good influence; knowing that I was changing the world by showing love to those that I didn’t feel were getting it from their own homes. I dressed however I wanted, and I drove over the speed limit. In my heart, I was truly a rebel who was also going to make the world a better place.
As I moved through my high school years and into my 20’s, I was always the child/grandchild/sister/niece/friend that everyone always wondered “what will she do next?” For other self-identifying rebels, I was about a 1.5 on a 1-10 scale of rebellion. In my family I was at least a 9.7! Everyone in my family were great at following the order of things and the rules.
You went to high school, you went to college, you got married and you had kids.
I wore my uniqueness and my desire to forge my own path as a badge of honor. I was always acting true to my spirit and to the calling of my heart; even if it made others uncomfortable. In my eyes I was living on my own terms and the rebel spirit was at the wheel! So I went to high school, went to Junior College, went to Cosmetology school, moved to New York to be a Nanny…and the journey went on for a while and was full of great adventures and countless stories I hold dear to my heart.
I was also learning that when you live this way, it can make others uncomfortable and worry about you. They will also judge you. Even if they think their judgements are for your own good, they are still judgements. I have also always been someone who does care what others think, so these judgements had a way of seeping into my subconscious thought.
Back then it was more in a way of taking in what they are saying, but still making the decision I thought was best for me; even if it went against what judgement or opinion someone had shared.
It served me quite well, and it gave me a life full of adventures, failures, sheer joy, and great challenges. You know, Living Life!
Over the next couple of decades my rebel spirit became tame. Society has a way of doing that. You’re told you need to “grow up” and do things a certain way. You need to have health insurance and a 401K or retirement plan. You need to “plant roots” and “settle down”. Slowly you start to see everyone else around you doing this. Getting the stable job with all of the trappings, starting families, buying a house and possibly a mini-van. Although some of these things appealed to me, these things didn’t seem to be showing up at my doorstep. I was getting restless for something that looked like stability, as that was what I was seeing all around me. I was open to whatever it was.
It showed up as a moment in my living room, watching Oprah. The Universe was telling me loud and clear that I needed to go back to school to become a teacher. I heeded the call and took the steps I needed to get started. Although it didn’t seem rebellious to go to college, for me it brought back those same feelings. Fear, excitement, bravery, change; and the desire to make a difference in the world.
I went back to school. I worked hard and earned 2 degrees. I started a career that met all of the criteria that had the big safety net. It has served me well, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way, but as of late, some questions and curious thoughts have entered my mind. Am I truly living my life, or have I chosen to just be comfortable? Where is my rebel spirit? Where is my need to explore new places and to try new things? Have I chosen comfort over courage?
About 2 years ago I began the task of cleaning out my attic space. I ran across some old photos, notes, books, and memorabilia that transported me back to my rebel-self. This also happened during a time of great turmoil in my job and a time of deep self-reflection; as I was feeling lost, battling depression, and just feeling very disconnected with myself and the world around me. I ended up putting the items back into the attic and closing the box on those memories until I knew I was ready to dig deeper. Not into the attic [which will easily be a 3 day project when I get the courage to tackle it, again], but dig deeper into myself.
It is now over 2 years from the time I found those items in the attic. The attic is STILL not organized and I haven’t revisited those photos yet; but now I am excited to see what other treasures I have buried in there. I won’t approach the job with trepidation about what I may discover, but I am excited to relive some of the amazing things I have done in my past.
At the same time, I am finally ready, and have actually begun to find my rebellious spirit again! To be able to find it, I had to really understand what it actually was for me back then.
Upon further inspection I saw that the scope of my true rebel spirit didn’t meet the Merriam-Webster definition. It was more subtle than that. Much more subtle. I didn’t skip school or party. I didn’t sneak out of the house or steal. I actually followed most of the rules, had a high respect for authority and the great desire to not disappoint anyone. But what I felt was the SPIRIT of rebellion. I was the only person in my family who didn’t fit the “mold”. I didn’t follow the same path or the beaten path. My path was forged by me and me alone.
I could see that I felt I could do anything and I KNEW I was brave enough to do it.
I took risks, but didn’t seek out danger.
It was a force within me that only allowed ME to define myself. I was strong, brave, bold, and I knew that life was for living and I was going to squeeze everything out of it that it was offering up to me…even if it made those around me a little uncomfortable.
That was my definition of my rebel spirit.
Now at 46 years old, I see that being a rebel only takes BELIEVING that you are one! It’s being BOLD and BRAVE. Faking it until you make it. Saying it out loud in the mirror to yourself. Saying it over and over again in your head as you’re walking down the hall at work.
Saying it until you BELIEVE it!
Because in the not too distant future, it will become your truth; as it is becoming mine again. The rebel spirit can return. Your bold, brave spirit will emerge from its long hibernation, ready to stretch its legs…and kick some ass!
Rebellion may be loud and messy, but it can also be soft and subtle. Your bold, brave self is defined by YOU. It is defined by choosing Courage over Comfort. Thank you Brené Brown for your quote “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you can’t have both”.
I have chosen courage over comfort recently, and it is serving me well. It doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. That is where the learning takes place. That is where the rebel spirit resides.
When rediscovering your rebellious, bold, brave self, it also requires having grace with yourself. It looks different on all of us and it manifests itself differently based on a myriad of things. It may be that soft, quiet voice or it may roar like a lion. It’s unapologetically yours and can look however you choose.
I invite you to explore your own rebellious spirit. To answer the call of your heart and to see where it takes you. It will be a grand adventure, and I know it will be well worth it.
Allow it to be what it organically is….YOU. POWERFUL. REBELLIOUS. BOLD. BRAVE.