I’m not sure how we become who we are. It may be just deciding one day that we want to be X and then acting the way we think X behaves until we become what we believe X to be. Growing up I didn’t know who I wanted to be, all I knew is I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do or who I should be. Over the years I have narrowed down who I really am by realizing who I am not. Maybe it’s the whittling away of the unauthentic that creates who we really are. I’m not sure. But here’s what I do know: judging from the way I naturally behave, my beliefs, the people I love, and the lifestyle I live/am creating, I think I am becoming a “free spirit” or what I believe a free spirit to be.
There are probably as many definitions of “free spirit” as there are people who define themselves as one. For me the key word is “free”. Freedom is what I value most. The freedom to live the way I want and do (or not do) what I want. I’ve heard people call those who live this way selfish, and I’m okay with that. Because if you aren’t living your life the way you want, whose version of your life are you living? I see people doing what others want them to do, caving into social and familial pressures, saying “yes” when they want to say “fuck no!” Those are the most unhappy people I know. Most have issues with anxiety and depression and schedules jam packed with shit they have absolutely no interest in. The fear of saying “no” and disappointing and being judged by others creates a kind of prison. My hope is they will learn the word “no” and use it often. It frees up your days to do whatever you want. (The key word there is “free”.)
One thing that really helped kick my free spirit into high gear was to create a list of things I care about versus things I don’t care about at all. This list helps me to see who and what I care about in black and white. Then I simply write off and say no to all those things I just don’t want to do. As I have experiences and choices to make, I add my “really care abouts” and my “don’t give a fucks” to that list. It gets longer every day. My current list of things I care about include: husband, cat, mother, travel, close friends, nature, guitar lessons, yoga, kitchen remodel, and motorcycles. Some of the things on my “don’t care” list: counting calories, politics, Facebook (I quit!) attending meetings, being social (see below), what other people think, baby showers, and holiday parties.
I spend my time and energy on the things I love and completely ignore anything to do with the things I don’t care about. For example, social invitations during the winter. That would be a no. My husband and I are not winter people, we do not ski and go out as little as possible during the cold months. Invite us anywhere and the answer is a “thank you, but no”. Do people get upset? I have no idea. My job is to not keep track of who’s angry with me for saying no. My job is to be free and live the life I want to live and have a great time in the process.
This is an on-going process and one I’m sure will develop over the years. I don’t believe I’ll sell our house, shave my head, and become part of a basket-weaving commune any time soon, but as an evolving free spirit I’m going to try to be open to all of the possibilities.