A client was looking at her dating life and asked, “Why do women date bad boys, or rebels?” I took a breath and said, “It is easier to date a rebel than be one.” I didn’t miss a beat to her question and her reaction to my answer was to bolt upright on the sofa, her mouth formed a little O and she rapidly blinked and nodded as though she was sending Morse code. It seemed I hit home. I think dating the “bad boy or bad girl” goes across the board for the sexes. We know opposites attract but I am not sure they sustain, unless there are common core values between partners.
I think that we sometimes seek out people that appear to be exotic, bold, and dangerous; they do things we would want to do but are afraid of doing. They are outspoken, brave, reckless, careless, passionate and full of life. All the things we have on our To Be List’s. Many folks instead live vicariously through others in a pale substitute for living. Finding our sense of self, our confidence leads to our own voice, and subsequently our own rebel within. I believe it is our calling to be authentically who we are, in all we are both shadow and light. That wholeness and humility comes forward to celebrate for this small time and space we are here. Not editing who we are but embracing all of it, the good, the bad and the crazy.
I have lived an unconventional life in many ways, some being that I have had many careers, lived in lots of places, never married nor had children. I dance to the beat of a different drummer, badly at times but it is my dance and I own it. I own it in all its herky, jerky movements, the fits and starts with staccato transitions and prat falls all leading to self-satisfied stillness in my weirdness and freedom. I like who I am. It was hard won over hellish years of wandering in search of what lie within. When younger I was looking for that sense of self outside, in the faces of the men I loved, the friends I connected with and the challenges that I chose.
As most folks of a certain age can attest to, we find love, happiness, fulfillment, kindness within. In fact most things in life are an inside job. We cannot give others what we don’t give to ourselves. We also cannot get to our rebel voice, our sense of true self, without stopping, reflecting, feeling and fully living in the moment. We cannot get to our rebel, ourselves, without making a massive amount of mistakes, and having one embarrassing moment after another. We find the things we feared most not only don’t kill us but were so much smaller then they appeared. Not unlike side mirrors on a car, a distortion we have been warned about yet never really fully process in real time. As one of my editors told me “fear is such a bullshitter.”
Leaning into your rebel self, finding passion, purpose and play on a daily basis creates a wonderful life. So how do you start? You start by getting to know who you are, not who you have cultivated to fit into the life you think you should lead, or the partner you think your significant other wants, or the person who you believe society has asked you to be. You take time and really get to know what you like and don’t like, what feels good and what feels shitty. You unplug from social media and social circles that dictate what we should do and instead create space for you to flex your true self muscles. Though it may feel weird and shaky, like a foal taking its first steps that is just fine. That is what new feels like. Just try it on your own, mess up, try again and learn from what it feels like. Don’t think too much: your brain can hinder this process in a big way. This is something we have to feel our way to, not think our way to. We become an anthropologist or detective in our own lives. We use those internal tuning forks in our gut and chest that pull us towards the things that resonate. Then leave the things that don’t resonate and don’t judge. Just make note. Just notice.
The first step is just about noticing, being present, letting go of fear or letting it lapse just a little. Letting go of the fiction of perfect and normal is key. Come on, would you sit next to someone who was either perfect or normal at a wedding? Hell no! There is no there, there…. Just steep in what feels good, moves you forward and creates space. Laugh at yourself and give yourself lots of kindness and a massive amount of curiosity about the world and how you move through it. This is called nurturing, creating an environment for you to grow, to thrive and become the force of nature you were born to be and letting your inner rebel out.