As I embark upon the second part of my online painting class, AROUSE, I reflect upon all the ways that I hold myself back -- to comply with the 'rules' of bosses and employers; to obey the laws of the jurisdictions in which I live. Most concerning, however, is really the ways in which I hold myself back from being my genuine, creative self in order to fit in with acceptability to society. What is acceptable, anyway?
How many messages did we receive as children: "Sit like a young lady...Remember your place...Mind your own business...Girls don't play rough..." Not to mention, the ones we continue to get as adults: "Pretty people are better liked...Keep yourself up...Its better not to stand out in a crowd...A good woman is always BEHIND her man...Put your own needs aside, because others' are more important...You must learn to multi-task...Be sure to consider every viewpoint..." It goes on and on. The messages' intents are clear:
1. Women are less important than men.
2. Women must be strong enough to take on the larger bulk of responsibility in the family.
3. Women are expected to not worry about themselves, except in matters of appearance, where they should always put their 'best foot forward.'
4. Women are expected to take a back seat.
5. Women are not good enough.
Like most women, I learned to live within the confines of those messages. I learned to stunt myself and who I was in order to fit in. Of course, I also feared myself and the strength of my personality. I dealt with that via a variety of activities that blunted and hid those emotions and characteristics. Neither approach was positive or enduring. One day, I woke up. And, I continue to become more aware, day by day, moment by moment. Potential is limitless. I need only open up to it.
I don't need to do things perfectly. What is perfect, anyway? Perfection is the majority's perspective of how something should be done. Sometimes, I'm in the majority. Sometimes, I'm not. Today, I will worry about my own perspective, my own JOY, and move forward accordingly.
Don't get me wrong, I know that my penchant for nudity is illegal in the outside world. And, to be honest, I'm not sure that I'd want to share that with anyone outside my own home. Its a raw, intimate way of interacting with the world. While I enjoy it in a natural setting, with loved and trusted ones (although, mostly, its a pure pleasure when I'm just all alone), I won't be wandering around town naked. I recognize, abide, and honor the laws in my town. To those that I disagree, I will address through my representatives, in the appropriate fashion. But, within the confines of my house, I will behave accordingly. It has long been my fantasy to have enough property that I can be unencumbered among nature.
Probably, the most important thing I discovered doing the exercises for today: when I initially attempted to release those self-imposed limitations, it HURT. My body was stiff and sore and physically in pain. I had to work through it, push past it, and keep going. That is my lesson for today:
Sometimes, learning hurts.
What painful lessons have you learned? How are you becoming free?