Have you ever found yourself wanting to impulsively break out into song and dance? Have you ever had something on your mind that felt heavy with importance, yet when the time came to share, you opted to keep it to yourself… “Ah, it’s not that important anyway. I’ll say it another time.” Or, have you ever held back an explosive splutter of a laugh because of an invisible nudge to turn it down?
Well, I have. I often have.
Singing, dancing, laughing or being generally expressive is often a challenging task for us all in a social setting. Despite wanting to sing at the top of our lungs, or laugh till our tummies are tight, we often police ourselves to fall into the confines of social norms: singing is okay – just as long as it’s not too loud. Dancing is okay – just as long as it’s contained to the one-two-step. Laughing? Yes, of course – just at appropriate times, in appropriate ways. These forms of self-expression are, on one hand, encouraged in society yet, I would argue, that within ourselves and social circles, are often belittled and betrayed.
We often belittle our self-expression every time we give into feeling self conscious:
“What will people think?”
“Everyone is watching – get a grip.”
“You look ridiculous! Calm the fudge down!”
We want to be able to control what other people think about us so that we can feel worthy of their approval. We want to be able to manage perceptions. Particularly as young women, we are patronised and told to “settle down”, and that we are “too loud” or “un-lady like” if we step out of the typically passive feminine qualities. However, who’s to say that our feminine power doesn’t lie in giving ourselves permission to express ourselves however we please and in turn, empower others to do the same. When we don’t give ourselves permission to experience total freedom, we rarely tolerate that freedom in others.
Within our social circles
What’s arguably worse, is that we also belittle each other when we allow others to feel self conscious about their own self expression. Just think… Has there ever been a moment when someone close to you has stepped out of their comfort zone or social norm and you have subtly made fun of them? In that moment, when commenting on their dress sense or whatever form their self expression takes, we have a tendency to put them down, shame their efforts and betray them. Yes, betray – because in doing so, we intentionally or unconsciously, highlight that they are doing something that’s not acceptable. Surely we want to encourage people to accept all of themselves? We minimise our own vulnerability in that moment, because we don’t want to risk being associated with them, in order to reduce the risk of potentially being ridiculed ourselves.
We are not alone
So, here’s what I have been mindful of during the past week. We cannot please everyone, nor should we strive to, because ultimately perceptions are out of our control. When we allow ourselves to accept all of our expressive qualities and outbursts, our example has the potential to encourage others to do the same.
In her book “The Gifts of Imperfection”, Brene Brown, researcher and storyteller, describes the transformational qualities of self expression:
“Laughter, song and dance create emotional and spiritual connection; they remind us of the one thing that truly matters when we are searching for comfort, celebration, inspiration or healing: We are not alone.”
Beauties, we are not alone. Let’s learn to glow independently and let no-one claim our magic. I dare you.
Life is but a vapour.