A long time ago in a galaxy far away, aka high school, I used to described myself as a pinko commie, bleeding heart, tree-hugging, whale-saving, liberal, hippie. I wore that label with pride and was unafraid to debate anyone on the issues that were important to me.
As I’ve gotten older I attempted to drop most labels, not because my beliefs about the issues have changed necessarily, but because labeling myself seems less and less important. Labels don’t tell the full story, and they historically are not very flexible. I have my beliefs and I do feel pretty strongly about them, but I like to think I’m always open to new information that can lead to change and growth in my understanding. What hasn’t changed since high school is my confidence in my beliefs and my willingness to share them with others.
Or so I thought…
Imagine my shock when I recently became conscious of the fact that when referencing the work I do, and even my understanding of the Universe (including my spirituality) I referred to it as “hippie stuff”. I was using this term not with the pride of my younger years, but as if to say “Oh this is just hippie stuff. Feel free to think it’s not important, serious, or effective.” I was giving others permission to dismiss my work, my experience, my beliefs, and the amazing changes I’ve had in that past few years.
I realized I assumed people would think it was weird, silly, or unbelievable. If they’re going to dismiss it any way, why don’t I just save them the trouble and dismiss it before they can so I can spare myself the embarrassment?
Which lead me to the realization that I was unconsciously dismissing it myself. My unconscious mind was saying that this work couldn’t have possibly made such great changes in my life. The changes I think I’ve had aren’t real, and even if they were real they’re only temporary.
I’m grateful I caught this type of thinking. It was preventing me from being myself, from telling my story, from making this work available to others.
Well I tell you what…that kind of thinking and talk stops now. I do believe in this work, I do believe in the changes I’ve created in myself and that I’ve seen in others, and I do believe it will help me continue to grow for the rest of my life.
When we censor ourselves, or downplay our experience we not only do ourselves and injustice, but also those who seek a new path or look to us as role models.
There are an abundance of paths available to us. Each of us chooses which path is right in each moment. Your path is right for you and my path is right for me.
If the path you’ve chosen is serving you, own it, wholeheartedly. Never apologize for where you are on your journey, to your family, friends, coworkers, and especially not to yourself.
It’s also important to know that once on a path you don’t have to stay there forever. In each moment you get to choose you path. Choose the one that makes you feel more alive and be fearless about living it. Share your experience with others. Someone out there may be looking for a new path, and yours might just be the one that helps them live into their full potential. You don’t need to waste time and energy trying to convince others that you are right and they are wrong, but you can live your belief, show others how greatly you’ve been impacted, what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown. If there is a piece of your journey that can serve another, Great! If not, let them find what does work for them.
But under no circumstances should you ever disrespect your journey, put it down, or apologize for it. You are on your own unique journey. You are the only one it needs to serve, to make sense to, to feel good to. If it makes you feel more alive, it’s the right path for you, even if us hippies like it too.