Recently I discovered a fear that had been buried inside me for years.
This epiphany came to me while at a playground one afternoon with my kids, when I suddenly got the urge to swing from the monkey bars.
I nonchalantly looked around to scope out how many other parents were on the scene, and discovered only a few. The urge came again.
Why was I hesitating? Why couldn't I just follow my instinct to play?
When kids run around the playground, they follow their interests: sliding, swinging, climbing. They run around, freely living in alignment with what their bodies and souls want to experience in that moment.
But us parents so often get stuck in "Parent Mode." Or rather, "Serious Mode." Many of us have spent so long not following our instincts to play because "What will people think of us?"
What is the fun in that?
Why can't I do a little jig while pushing my stroller through the mall? Why can't I play ring around the rosey with my kids while waiting at the DMV?
Why is everyone so damn serious all the time?
Dancing on an airplane
Last year I remember standing in the aisle of an airplane, waiting to get off my flight, and the line was not moving at all.
In a moment of clarity, I looked around at everyone and thought:
"Why is everyone just standing here in silence, acting like we don't care about each other (which was probably true)? We are totally wasting this moment of our lives! We are missing this opportunity to connect with each other. And most importantly, we are missing this chance to dance!"
My mantra that year was "Enjoy every moment." And right then, I felt I could do a much better job of enjoying the moment.
As I stood there in the crowded aisle, next to all my fellow humans who I didn't know personally but felt connected to in some spiritual way, I entertained the idea of turning on my music and starting a dance party right then and there.
"Is this insane?" I asked myself, laughing at myself for even having this thought.
I tried to think of a reason not to do it. But I didn't know anyone there, so caring what they thought of me was not an issue.
Why was I holding back?
Stepping out of my self imposed box
Growing up, i fiercely avoided attention. I thought that if people thought I was "showing off," their opinion of me would decrease.
It all comes back to this, doesn't it? We want other people to like us.
I had lived like this for so long that I believed I was a person who held back. I wasn't a person who started singing in a public restroom, like that soulful black woman I ran into at Target. I wasn't a person who did yoga on the beach and took pictures to post on Instagram.
Why wasn't I a person who lived how I wanted to? Because I was afraid of people thinking that I was showing off.
Sadly, my fear got the best of me in that moment on the plane, as I quickly reminding myself that I was not a person who would ever attract attention to herself.
Soon the line started moving and the opportunity vanished as we all walked away into our lives.
Face to face with my Inner Critic
But that day on the playground was different. I was at a point in my life where I had become much more serious about overcoming my fears in order to live my life to the fullest.
And so I said to myself, "Fuck it" and walked over to the monkey bars where I immediately began doing somersaults and headstands mid-air.
In that moment, I felt free.
However, while swinging upside down, I heard the voice of my Inner Critic:
"Lynleigh, those parents totally think you're showing off right now! Are you?"
I could feel her accusatory tone. Her voice became the imagined voice of those watching me. Her voice became my own judgment of others who I used to be jealous of for freely expressing themselves. She hit me again:
"I think you're showing off right now. You are, aren't you? You're such a show off. Smh." (That's right, my inner critic texts me.)
She was trying her hardest to get me to feel bad about myself. She wanted me to question whether I really was showing off.
But this time I stepped into it. I replied to my lovely Inner Critic:
"I'm going to ignore you right now, and enjoy the feeling of doing something EVEN when other people MIGHT think I'm "showing off." Whatever that means and whoever cares. Seriously. What the fuck. (Yes, I just said fuck twice. If there is someone who thinks I'm trying to get attention by using that word, then guess what? I don't give a fuck anymore! P.S. That's 3.)
When I stepped out of my dusty old box, suddenly I discovered a beautiful expansiveness of fresh air and limitless possibilities. It was out there all along. I just had to push past my inner critic to discover it.
Set yourself free! Let go of your fears. Go have fun with life!
Namaste, beautiful souls!