The towering trees were illuminated by the setting sun. They were thick and dense, some might even say it was claustrophobic in the forest, but not me. I feel free with the trees closing in around me. In fact, it is possibly the place I feel the most like myself.
In the dense forest it is easy to escape what is truly claustrophobic: societal pressures and ideations. Day in and day out people are always expecting something, anything, from you. Piece by piece they demand your soul, your existence, and each piece they greedily consume only to spit it back out in your face.
“Not enough, not good, more”. Always wanting more but never satisfied.
Isn’t that our culture?
Nothing is enough and nothing is good enough.
When is it over?
I fear never, so I escape to nature in search of a peace that demands no piece of me.
The sun flickers in and out of the branches, the flickering pulses around me like the beat of a strange song. The sun is embracing me, asking me to dance. I must oblige.
No other dance partner has ever been so dazzling, warm, and humble. It’s beauty unknown to itself. I begin to dream that one day I will be like the sun. I aim to be unconcerned with how others perceive me, I am here simply to shine the only way I know how. Rain, snow, fog; on I shine.
And as we begin our waltz I feel it – it’s me stepping, no dancing, into who I am meant to be. Each move fortifies what has been in me forever, a me shining in what I was always meant to be – free.
Free from others expectations, free from pressure to act, look, and think a certain way. I was not born to conform. No, I was born to be free like the sun, the trees, the sky. Perhaps this is why I have always felt so free in nature. I see the trees standing tall in who they are, the wind blows where it wants, and the sun shines without a care. Regardless of what is going on the sun does not stop shining. Nature stands proud simply doing what it was created to do.
As I dance with the sun I crave to know this me and this freedom for all time. As the dance progresses I realize I am no longer dancing with the sun, she is bidding adieu, dipping behind the trees.
For what feels like an eternity I lose the beat, the rhythm, the dance is slipping from my fingers. The freedom that once saturated my soul is dissipating.
A tale as old as time – I am losing this fight again. My body is suddenly heavy as a rock. As the dance fades from my memory the world once again pushes down on me. The voice in my head tells me I was never enough to finish the dance. I never should have dared dance with the sun.
For I moment I listen. But, no. Not this time.
I feel myself begin to rise once more. Suddenly I am in the arms of a new dance partner dipping and swaying freely. In the dark I can’t quite make out this shadowy form. The dance, while similar to the sun’s, is different. It’s more familiar. Even in the dark I do not miss the steps, hesitate or second guess. When the pace picks up I do not feel lost.
My eyes begin to adjust to the darkness, and the shadow in front of me starts to form into recognition. Blonde hair spins in front of me, and I realize that this dance I dance with no one else but myself.
I see a me how she should be: freer than free. A woman so connected with who God made her that she moves in freedom, not fear. A woman so connected with her heart that she wears it on her sleeve happily. Every creative idea and dream that she had ever harboured deep in her heart is now openly expressed for the world to see.
Let them see me.
Take me or leave me – this is how I am. I have no choice but to dance with me, and I want to dance with a me that I like… no, love.
Somewhere along the line in life we bought into the idea that we have to restrain the person we truly are. Shoved into a box of rigidity and societal expectations we forget the dance that once flowed freely.
Our dance is a part of us, but it is buried deep down right-along-side our true selves. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons we have such a struggle loving ourselves and our lives. We are not being our true, authentic self. We aren’t living out our lives as God intended: we aren’t using or sharing our talents, we aren’t embracing the things that make us us, and we aren’t allowing ourselves to simply shine without comparison.
Piece by piece we give ourselves away. We hide our true selves deep down in our heart, lock it, and try to throw away the key. We do this because, naturally, we crave approval. We yearn for acceptance.
Through the years our true-selves erode away under the forceful current that is society. We forget the raw, beautiful, powerful dance that lies within use. We have been told that our differences are weird, and we believed it.
We take all the things that make us us, and we run as fast as we can in an attempt to dissociated ourselves from them. Before we know it we are grown and we are lost.
We wonder how we ended up walking endlessly in circles, and we wonder how we break out of this endless wandering. We fear that we can’t find our authenticity anymore, because it has been so long since we even acknowledged it.
We have convinced ourselves that we are average and ordinary, simply because we have forgotten what lies within ourselves.
This is your call to remember who you are. Sit, take time, be alone, fail, search, let go of all the pressure, and dance. It is in you, find it. Work to find your authentic self and then dance.
Don’t worry, you won’t forget the steps. It is in you. It is you. It’s your dance and yours alone.
God has made you exactly how you are and gifted you with amazing gifts, not so you can hide, but so you can shine.