19 May 2010

Freedom of Expression

Let me ask you a question: do you dress the way you want to dress? I read something a little while ago that I haven't yet stopped thinking about and would like to share with you.

I read Teach Yourself Happiness by Paul Jenner a few weeks ago. I highly recommend it; the author shares incredibly practical tips on how to choose joy and expand your satisfaction in life - and, as the title suggests, to achieve happiness. For some reason, the following part of the book really struck a chord with me - and I'm paraphrasing - "Express yourself in everything that you do - in your hobbies, music choices, friends, your actions, and the clothes you wear. Only when we can be free to express who we are can we be happy."

It sounds simple enough. Yet when I looked at my own life, I found that I don't really know how to express myself; I dress conservatively, though unintentionally so, and often refrain from speaking my mind to avoid conflict (though I am getting much better at this). In art, I think, I feel the most free to be myself. I know that my mama often sees jewelry or clothing she likes but says that she can't wear it because she's too old/it wouldn't suit her/she's too shy.

I know how I'd like to dress; I know whom I admire and would like to emulate; I know what qualities I'm drawn to and what kind of person I'd most like to have as a friend. But, due to fear or expectations or something else entirely, I hide behind something that is not a true representation of who I am. How many of us dress, act, speak, or seem a certain way because we are afraid of being different, standing out, or being ridiculed? It is so, so much easier to blend into the crowd - but you won't necessarily be happier this way.

Let's change this. The solution may not be as easy as changing your entire wardrobe; I suspect that it is something much larger - something in the heart or the mind. I don't know how, but I am determined to work on this, to think about it, until I reach a new realization. Are you with me?


Brandi said...

You just confirmed what I've been thinking for the past two years. I definitely don't dress the way I want to but I worry that doing so would be expensive. I'm going to work on it and see if I can figure it out.

zoe858 said...

If there are two things, I've learnt in life it's (one) you have to make yourself happy...enjoy your own company and (two) wear what you yourself. That within itself will bring you joy!!! !!

~Barb~ said...

At almost 45, I have actually started living the way you speak about here. I wear my florescent orange watch all the time, bright & dangley, silly earrings, super short haircuts (I hate doing my hair and no longer have to worry about doing it!), and the list goes on and on. I guess you could say that I'm learning how to live an authentic life; the life that reflects the real me...and it feels really good!
Peace & Love,

Lianne said...

I have been thinking about this too. There are some ways in which I can completely be myself, that is with my boyfriend, my best friends and my music choices. The last one seems a bit odd, but when people don't listen to mainstream music you can learn a lot about them from their taste in music.
My hobbies, actions and clothes are not really me I think. I am trying to include more me in my wardrobe lately, but it's not really working yet ;)
So yes, my dear, I am with you!

molly said...

Hi Ingrid,

I love love this post. In the last year (something about turning 36, or about having made it through a 20-day Vipassana course, or perhaps the level of detox I just did at OHI......I have a new level of truth that arises within me. Well, rather, it is the inability NOT to be truthful. Mostly. And it is liberating. And by being that truth, we are self-expressing, aren't we. My husband likes to say, "The truth burns clean.". I love that. You're blog is beautiful. Look forward to reading more!



Molly said...

p.s. LOVE the pic in this post, too. Love the vibrant colors and clothes!

Ingrid said...

hello, lovelies ~

i've been reading each of your comments as you write them, and thinking about each one. i'm so happy for those who have reached a point where they can let go and freely express themselves; and i have high hopes for those of us still on the journey there. thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts!

Romantic Heroine said...

it is always nice to read your post! I metioned you in my latest post ♥

gypsy said...

I remember shopping for funky shoes a few years ago, wearing a conservative black suit with a gray shirt and black pumps. Boring, old. I started imagining what my clothing told others about me. I've made some progress, adding more color and interest, but still a long way to go! This is a wonderful concept, to express ourselves in as many ways as possible.


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