One of the wisest pieces of advice I have received came from my Daddy sometime during my overly sensitive, awkward teen years . . .
“Lauren, you can’t take yourself so seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself.”
Well, I took that advice to heart.
Did you see the girl laughing and dancing in circles near 70th and Quaker this morning while on her “jog”? That would be me. Or, maybe you noticed the one running in the Saddlebrook neighborhood and pantomiming the lyrics to the “Breakfast” chorus by the Newsboys (Remember . . . When the toast is burned, / And all the milk has turned / And cap’n crunch is wavin’ farewell.) That would have been me also. And, you know what? I don’t care.
Now, I’m sure there are still some things that could embarrass me, but the list is rapidly shrinking. It is refreshing to come to a place where I am more confident in who I am than self-conscience about who I am not. Matter of fact, that realization makes me giddy. Spinning circles on the side of the road was, in a way, uplifting. (If you’ve not pulled that particular stunt recently, then I challenge you to experiment. You will find yourself transported back to childlike levels of euphoria.)
On a more serious note, I believe my maturing perspective on myself and “proper” behavior stems from the fact that I have faced many of my fears in the last couple of years . . . struggled . . . and overcome. Not much compares to staring rape, suicide, sickness, infertility, and exhaustion in the face, and then rising from the ashes of waning hopes and naive dreams to conquer the Enemy’s attacks. Although some of the fears that I mentioned were actually experienced by close friends rather than by myself, it has still been an uphill battle into a barrage of fire. The critical turning point arrived when I realized with heart-stopping dread that I no longer felt emotions: I wasn’t happy, sad, angry, tired, depressed. I was numb. Nothing.
I was tempted to remain that way. It was so much easier to not feel anything – joy or pain. I could survive by pulling into myself, turning away from life. But, I lost so much in the doing. Maybe you have been there . . . sacrificing relationships for safety, sacrificing dreams for survival. I couldn’t live that way. Who am I if I am not dreaming, hoping, risking, loving, sorrowing, crying? Nothing. Absolutely Nothing.
And so, I began the long process of thawing. Slowly, ever so slowly. It’s been over a year, but I can truthfully say that I am now witnessing beauty rise from the ashes. I hope again. I love again. After months of no tears, I cry again. More than that, though, I have been reshaped by both the tragedy and the redemption that have marked my past. Sometimes, it makes me giddy. Sometimes, I feel like a little child again. Sometimes, I have to dance on the side of the road because I am truly alive.
I’m going to make a fool of myself for the rest of my life. And love it.