We waste a lot of our lives worrying about what others think of us.
It’s not just a social media thing. Long before we courted “Likes” and hearts and smiling emojis, we looked around after we said something, did something, even thought something, wondering how others in the room would react.
It’s a natural outcome, actually, of living in a society that brews and foments peer pressure. We start young: two-year-olds are smarter than we think, and in a tight cluster, they learn quickly how to act and not act to protect their trucks and dolls.
Throughout our school years, if we’re not the bullies then we work around them (because for some odd reason, grown-ups simply have no ability to protect), subtly adjusting our behavior to fit into our group placement. Hierarchies emerge, with the top chickens, the popular hens, the stud roosters, controlling and manipulating the pecked upon and the picked upon. (To avoid this, it’s best to not draw attention to ourselves. Blend in. Fit in. Look and act like everyone else. This attitude will help once we get out in the work world, unless, of course, our plan is to become one of the top fowl.)
Our entertainment industry is there, throughout our lives, helping us through the process, prompting us to obsess about how we dress, what we drive, how much we make, how much we weigh. If we do not consciously stop and think, we will find our lives, our precious and irreplaceable lives, mapped out for us, circumscribed by shadowy rules.
The artwork, Wild Child, encourages us to break free, to run with joy and abandon through the landscape, allowing our imagination and creativity to lead us into beautiful and unexpected places. (How long has it been since we literally ran somewhere? Not to exercise, but simply to feel the wind in our face and the glory of our feet racing over the ground?)
And this joyous running starts inside, with our thoughts — thoughts that only God can see and ones that he does not punish us for having. Because it is through thinking, through questioning, through wondering, that we begin the process of being who we are — unique individuals — and grow into the fullness of our being.
Run wild. Run free.
Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are