A very good friend of mine, brilliant woman that she is, carries around with her permission slips.
While she is, in fact, the mom of a school-aged kiddo, this isn’t that kind of permission slip. Rather, these permission slips are gracefully pulled out of her purse, or journal, or calendar when she sees an opportunity for freedom. With the slips, she reminds friends and fellow firestarters to give themselves the freedom, the permission, to be great, or be messy, or be human. To respect their needs as valid and allow themselves to be held and revealed, by the truly awesome reality of their humanity and power and greatness.
As a recovering perfectionist, these permission slips sneak through my heavy armor and hit straight to the heart. In them, there is unleashed a soft acceptance and tender freedom, along with tears or shouts of joy or whatever it is that you, in your beautiful authenticity, release out into the world. For many of us, our ideas of who we “should be” creates a boundary around who we could be. If we only gave ourselves the permission to be wholly, incredibly and vulnerably authentic.
We temper our emotion, we limit our dreams. We leave words unspoken, needs unexpressed. We buy into the box we’ve created for our lives, we slog through obligations, and say no to scary, new desires, never allowing ourselves the freedom of exploring what it might look like if it were… different.
Liberation is a confusingly scary thing. There is fear in the face of freedom. The boundaries we’ve set for ourselves — emotionally, creatively, mentally — they’re familiar and known. Working within this framework is comfortable. Maybe a little squished, as the truth of who we are stretches out, pushing to be revealed, but it’s a well-known confinement. Freedom is new, uncharted territory. Liberation is life-changing, and we’re all a little scared of change.
It’s scary, yes, but it’s so damn good.
As a sometimes stubbornly independent woman, I get to learn this lesson repeatedly — usually with a healthy dose of tear-soaked tissues nearby. Just today, in the midst of financial nitpicking and overwhelm (my personal go-to freakout), I re-learned it. Reaching out to my honey, the sweetest of sweethearts – spreadsheets and receipts and pro’s-and-con’s lists littering the table in front of me – I grew silent and asked, softly, “Am I just a mess?” He spoke. Not to fix or solve my financial meltdown. Only to say what I truly needed to hear: “You’re allowed to be a mess. You’re human. Sometimes, I’m a mess.” Mmmm, permission granted.
I tell myself that I need to go it alone. I give myself permission to delegate or depend, to lean and be loved. I tell myself that it needs more work, more polish. I give myself the freedom to push send or publish or release my work to the world. I tell myself that I will never succeed, I never have before. I give myself the permission to be great, or good, or good enough for now, to see victory in a breath or a step or a choice. I tell myself that that client or gig or opportunity is not what I imagined for myself. I give myself the freedom to do what feels free, to let ease and joy be a part of the picture, whatever it looks like. I place myself in a well-known box. I give myself permission to bust the hell out of it.