Last night I was talking to my friend, Tricia, about all the years I felt like there was someone inside of me, dying to get out, but she was trapped.
That was a girl who wanted to wear hats. Who wanted to dance. Who wanted to laugh out loud. A girl who wanted to scrunch her socks down instead of folding them neatly over.
There was someone I really wanted to be, whom I felt like I was meant to be, but I couldn’t get to her.
There was a person in me who got pushed down, over and over again, because she wasn’t the person I was trained to be: under the radar, quiet, conforming, nice, accommodating, milquetoast.
That “real me” inside of me got pushed away also because I didn’t know how to let her out.
It was depressing. (Literally)
I remember walking down the streets of Manhattan when I was a college student, interning at Working Woman magazine. I remember the way I felt when I saw a woman with spiky blue hair, laughing loudly, head thrown back with joy and abandon. I remember what it felt like when I would stop and watch a street musician, wearing a crazy combination of colors and patterns, smiling broadly as he played his accordion. I remember seeing other girls my age in Central Park playing frisbee and looking so comfortable in their bodies.
I remember wanting to be them. To be like them. To feel as free as they seemed to be.
I remember how tight and trapped and small I felt. I remember how my shoulders were hunched, my fists were clenched. I never felt comfortable in my own skin or in the clothes I owned. I projected that all of these people were somehow at ease in their lives.
I longed for that feeling of giddiness, aliveness, and vibrancy.
But I simply didn’t know how to get there.
During my conversation with Tricia about all of this last night, I saw the role that hats played in helping me overcome so much of that awful sense of being unexpressed and thus, depressed.
Hats have helped me come to life. To my life. It’s like they called to me because they knew they could lead me down a path to myself.
I’d always been drawn to women in hats. Particularly women in cloches, from the 1920’s era. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I always felt like there was a “me” inside of me who was like that. It was as if that other “me” whispered to me and tried to get me to let her out.
But of course I couldn’t. Wearing hats, even a straw sun hat, was way outside of my comfort zone. As much as it called to me, as much as that woman inside me begged to be let out, I squashed it all. I pushed her into a tiny corner of my soul and shut the door.
I tell the story of how I started wearing hats here. And they did open a door to a part of myself who was desperate to come out. But that wasn’t the final point of why I am telling you this story today. (Because I realize I could easily go down a very very big rabbit hole of a very very long story about getting from here to there! I will tell you more, I promise. Because, well, hopefully we have lots more time together…)
I wanted to share my own story of something that called to me because I am fascinated by what those things are in everyone’s lives and what they mean.
Why I started telling you this is because I wanted to ask YOU about your experience of something calling to you. Something or “someone” inside of you whispering to please be let out.
I want to know, is there something you wear, say, or do that feels uniquely “you?”
Is there something that called to you — or is currently calling to you? And has that item or action helped you step into more of a feeling of how you want to be in the world?
Is there a necklace you string around your neck when you need to feel bold? Is there a pair of pants you wear when you need confidence? Is there a colorful scarf that makes you feel like you are an Italian movie star riding a Vespa?
It doesn’t have to be clothes. Maybe what always called to you was salsa dancing. Maybe it was learning to knit. Maybe it was learning Spanish. Maybe it was baking, bicycling, or botany.
I guess at the heart of it, I’m really curious to hear stories of what brings people to life. But not just “to life,” in general, but what brings you to life in a specific way that feels like the life you were always meant to live?
Am I making any sense?
Do you know what I’m talking about?
Did something (or does something) call to you like hats called to me?
Because for me, the hats were a doorway into the life I’d always imagined. But I didn’t know that until I’d unlocked the door and put a hat on my head.
I want to hear your stories! Will you take a moment to think about this and share with me?
Please post them below in the comments!
Seek celebration—even in dark corners,
P.S. Here’s a story I published in Kind Over Matter about Sarah, who followed the call of a bracelet and it changed her life.
Photo credit: Susan Harrow (I love that she captured a moment of pure glee at my recent book launch party!)