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Friday Thoughts on Walking to the Beat of Your Own Drum

April 17, 2010

I took this last year in a subway station in New York City. I was there to visit my sister who had an internship at Escada for six months. It was fun to have her only an hour and fifteen minute-long flight from where I live instead of an eight hour one!

I wish I could show you the little video I recorder, because they played the drums on those buckets with amazing joy and abandon. I think it’s a good illustration of what it’s like to fully be yourself, the joy that comes from accepting who you are. However, WordPress charges extra for a video upgrade…so maybe another day.

The main thing that I thought about this week was self-acceptance. This is something I need to consciously work at, at times. As the years go by, I feel like I peel off layer after layer and I become myself more and live and love more genuinely and deeply. Right now, I’m taking the Unravelling e-course, which is in its sixth week, and it’s another time of consciously focusing on who I am and where I am in life.

One of the things that has been a big struggle in my life is my quietness. One one hand, I think that I’ve found a lot of peace with the internal aspect of it, in that I’ve come to appreciate my quiet nature and I enjoy how I like to think about things. However, in the last few weeks, I realized again that I’m not always okay with how I am in social situations and how I am viewed by others. I sometimes really don’t like it that I’m soft-spoken. There’s a bit of a struggle for me to balance being true to my quiet, more sensitive nature and hiding behind it.

But in doing Unravelling and focusing on my deeper thoughts and a more authentic expression of myself, it started to spill over from taking photos and writing exercises and interacting with wonderful fellow Unravellers on-line into other areas of my life. In the last week, I had a moment where I realized I just feel most like myself and even the most confident when I’m speaking calmly and deliberately and, yes, even softly. Loud enough to be heard, yes, but I really don’t enjoy straining to be louder than I am. Yet, for so long, I’ve lived with the underlying assumption that if I want to get anywhere in life I’ll have to do that for the rest of my life. But maybe I don’t…

I know this may not seep like a big revelation, but it was important to me. Because every time somebody says something to me about being quiet, it hurts me. Even though most of the time, it’s not meant as criticism. But I definitely experience it that way. Yet, I’ve realized that:

– If I don’t accept myself exactly as I am, nobody else will. There will always be ways in which others will want me to be different, act differently, respond differently, that is just a fact of life. But I have noticed that the more I’m okay with myself, the more others are too.
– My own acceptance of who I am changes my perspective of others’ opinion about me. It will push a button if a remark touches on something that I struggle with. However, if I’m okay with it, I will be able to just let it be for what it is.
– I need to create my life around who I am rather than holding on to a subconscious idea that I need to change myself to get anywhere in life.

So walking to the beat of your own drum doesn’t have to be big and loud, it can rather be quiet and start small. Whatever fits you best. But don’t be mistaken, the joy is still the same.

Coco Chanel wearing a simple black dress in a sea of white puffy dresses.

Ben and I watched Coco avant Chanel yesterday. Of course I was taken by the beauty of the French language, the French interiors and the clothes in the movie. And Audrey Tatou is luminous as Coco! The thing that stood out to me too, though, is how much Coco was different from those around her. In the movie, the guy that she lives with even hides her and is ashamed of her. This is partly because of her background, because she was poor and grew up in an orphanage. But he also humiliates her for looking like a man (she dresses in men’s clothes) and for being plain. She doesn’t like to dress up with feathers, frills and big hats like the women around her. But she stays true to who she is and her name becomes synonymous with simple elegance. She is the first to make women’s clothes that are comfortable. Isn’t it crazy to think that there was a time when the little black dress didn’t exist? It took a woman who stayed true to who she was to bring that to the world and even now it’s a wardrobe staple in so many closets.

Are you walking to the beat of your own drum? Are you okay with being a little black dress surrounded by white puffy dresses if that’s what it takes to be true to yourself?

Wishing you a great weekend!


3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2010 4:26 pm

    I definitely am!

  2. April 17, 2010 4:32 pm

    I really enjoyed your post. There’s nothing wrong with being quiet. Accepting yourself is so important. I am the opposite- sometimes I wish I wasn’t so talkative and outgoing- it would feel nice to have a quiet nature…to feel ok without attention. We all have our differences, and must be happy with who we are! I definitely walk to the beat of my own drum I must say!
    speaking of unravelling…I’m quite behind all of a sudden…I hope to catch up a bit soon. Hope you are enjoying it! xo natalea

  3. April 17, 2010 9:04 pm

    Yes! This is just what I wanted to say… but couldn’t quite put into words! How funny that we’ve been working through the same things this week. It’s so easy to feel the need to be larger-than-life and just as loud as everyone else (I even toyed with the idea of having a super loud, outspoken Astrid as an alter ego!), but being comfortable with the authentic you is so much more powerful. Thanks for finding the words that explain my photos :)

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