I believe that each of us is born into this world knowing who we are. In some ways, our souls know what we long to experience in the world. We each have a little drum beating in our souls, meant to guide us towards the most nourishing path for our lives. Listening to that inner voice can be challenging. However, if you want to be happy you must be willing to dance to the beat of your own drum.
Of course, we do our best to mute the sounds of the drum. Not as a conscious decision to ignore our music. We want to fit in. We want to be loved and accepted. In order to achieve this, we begin to tune out the drum, put on the masks of conformity, and amble along the paths presented before us.
If we’re fortunate, life’s circumstances will help us shift the patterns we’ve followed.
I was lucky. One of those big shifts occurred for me thanks to my work requiring I travel.
I lovingly call 2005 to 2010 “My Gypsy Years.” I was a Road Warrior Princess for those five years. I spent at least 150 (or more) days each of those years living out of suitcases and seeking the comfort of a serene hotel room.
Work took me to cities like Tulsa, Kansas City, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Joplin, and Baltimore. I was incredibly grateful. The highlight of all that travel was my time in Washington DC. It became my spiritual home.
Once I laid eyes upon the Washington Monument on each trip, my anxieties would begin to melt away. That beautiful white monument in honor of Washington invited me to be my most authentic self.
Your happiness may need a reminder as well so you can dance to the beat of your own drum.
Choose a landmark to remind you that you love living life on your terms. Or maybe buy a beautiful necklace or bracelet that connects you to the REAL you. Talismans are powerful!
It’s been a lot of years since I spent my life living out of suitcases. Yet, I can’t deny that I began learning the answers to who I really was. Who I longed to be. What I most desired.
During the time, I only began to understand that my anxieties began to melt away. What was happening though was more profound. The walls I had built around my tender soul were dissolving.
Traveling alone allowed me to drop the masks I had used with family to be the perfect daughter, sister, and mother.
When you dance to the beat of your own drum: people may criticize.
I was traveling alone and though I spent time with folks at work, I wasn’t living the way others (aka family, friends, and acquaintances) believed I should be living. You see, people in our lives will insist upon only seeing us one way.
People will insist that we live a life that looks like theirs. One that is normal by their definition.
Being away didn’t insulate me from the criticism of living life on my terms.
My mother regularly told me what a terrible person I was for always traveling. I had a vacation planned, and she told me how crazy it was that I would want to get on another plane and go to the Caribbean for a long weekend when I had just spent the last month traveling between Tulsa and DC. Any time family drama would surface, my sister would say “OH, I guess you are gallivanting around DC. As usual.” Even my doctor got in a judgmental jab one day, telling me that my lifestyle was frankly crazy.
When I got tired of the criticism, I isolated myself. Though it wasn’t the best way to deal, it isolated my heart from the constant barrage of judgment.
I began to learn that when you dance to the beat of your own drum, it will draw criticism and invite people to judge you. Not because you are doing anything wrong, darling, but because you aren’t living by their standards.
The person that I was born to be, but had encased was emerging. I’d say that the people who interacted with me in DC got to know the real me long before anyone in Texas. But then, I’d head back “home” and put the walls back up and “be” the person folks expected. Well, most of the time.
Once you begin to dance to the beat of your own drum, it’s more painful to go back to the “old you”.
I had finally gotten a glimpse of who I really was. And though I was skilled at putting on masks and pretending to fit in, the constant construction and deconstruction was exhausting. Besides. I liked the real me so much better than the one that was hiding for all those years.
See, you never can quite put things back in the box the way they were now, can you?
I also learned that the people who want to mute your drum, the people who question your choices, and make you question yourself, they’re the ones sitting on the sidelines of your life, not living it. In most cases, many of them gain pleasure telling you how to live because they’re too afraid to live themselves.
Why share this tale of my Gypsy Years? Because I don’t want you to be shocked when someone you love isn’t happy with the changes you create in your life. I share this story with you so that when you begin to follow your own music back to your soul’s path, you aren’t blindsided when someone you love criticizes you.
It was during those Gypsy Years that I began to unleash the shiniest version of myself. And it shocked the hell out of me that the people I loved most in the world didn’t seem to like who I was becoming. People will tell you that they want what’s best for you. You will be told that they just want you to be happy. Yet, in the next breath they may say judgmental or critical things to you that may cause you to question yourself. Frankly, you will piss people off.
It’s not about you, darling. Truly. Just understand that the shadow side of following your desires is that you will lose friendships and some familial relationships may feel strained.
I can’t promise you that it will always be easy, but it will feel right within your heart. Creating a life you love is totally worth it. Because you, darling, are worth it.
Life is a complex dance. In order to be happy and feel nourished by our lives, we have to make peace with the reality that we are surrounded by armchair critics who will try to direct our choreography and score our moves.
The path to true happiness demands we live life on our own terms. Ultimately, it is up to us to ignore them. We must find our own songs, bang our own drums, and dance to the beat of the music that comes from our own souls.
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