by KRISTI LEE SCHATZ, M.A.
Have you ever witnessed an adult dancing on the sidewalk as if no one were watching? This act is likely to stun most bystanders and trigger judgments about their ridiculous behavior. It could also produce feelings of envy for their freedom to let go of fear and for their exuberant self-acceptance. We can’t control what other people think of us, but we can free ourselves from the burden of having to care.
It is apparent that most adults are tightly-wound creatures, bursting at the seams, yearning for freedom of expression and authenticity, yet fearful of the vulnerability of being imperfect and judged. We are not taught the importance of self-love and acceptance. We hold in our emotions and project unrealistic expectations onto others. We absorb the identity of what others expect us to be, and we play our societal roles to a “T”.
But at what cost?
The person dancing at the bus stop to the unknown song blaring through their headphones may be an easy target for judgment, but, could you do this? Would you be consumed with thoughts of impressing onlookers? Perhaps dancing on the sidewalk is a form of movement meditation that could liberate you from your inhibitions and fears. What if you could let go of all thoughts, reaching a state of contentment, joy, and unwavering self-love?
This metaphor easily lends itself to all areas of your life: how you hold yourself back from freely expressing your authentic self in public; how you conform to other people’s expectations to please or impress them, and how you criticize yourself and others for not following your man-made “rule book.” Call it human nature or learned behavior. Either way, it impacts our health as individuals and the wellness of our communities.
As we progress forward as a city embracing creativity, holistic wellness, and community collaboration, it is essential that we examine the social norms that oppress us from fully showing up in the world. Each person plays an important role in this collective dance and deserves the opportunity to freely express without the weight of fear, judgment, or shame.
Imagine living in a community where you feel safe to let go of your need to impress or judge others because deep down inside you know that you are good enough, and so is everyone else. If we gave ourselves permission to dance ecstatically in the streets, we may just see a revolution of self-love permeate throughout our city. This would be true freedom. The next time you witness a dancing rebel on the sidewalk, observe yourself. Perhaps its time to lay down your judging sword, take off your protective armor, and join them in the celebration of being human. It’s up to each of us to choose how we want to create this community, and it starts one person at a time. What will you choose?
The Art of Living Well in Jacksonville
by KRISTI LEE SCHATZ, M.A.