herbacious as always……..
Another Year of Coloring Outside the Lines-Successfully
Being comfortable in your own skin is a tough feat, especially with the daily pressures in this modern world. I find birthdays to be both exciting and inspiring and always feel that they provide the opportunity to think about where we have come and where we are seeking to go. This year, I have found myself contemplating my “differentness” yet again, but with much more appreciation of the topic than ever before. I’m still fearful of being outed as a “weirdo” but have much more ownership over this and a great deal more acceptance of myself than ever before. As I devote my annual time to this introspection, I discover new appreciations of myself, both in what I have been through and what I choose for my future. As we grow older we should inevitably become more comfortable in not only our own skin, but in our own energies and souls, if you will. I think I am on that path and this year especially has been one of profound growth for me in this “comfortability” with my differentness and with myself in general.
My life has been one of constant motion as well as a lot and discovery—which is an understatement actually. One could say that it is hard to be rooted with this partially forced and partially chosen lifestyle of moving around, and one could be partially correct I suppose. It can be hard to find sincere support groups with a mobile lifestyle that doesn’t always allow you to be deeply rooted in your community for a good length of time. We need support groups that are physically present in our lives and I’m beginning to understand this more and more. Many of my closest friends and family live far away and this is the first year I celebrated my birthday without any of them present. There are not many people who have known me since I was a child that are around today or still incontact with; this is the reality of my childhood that I accept fully. But I will say that to know me as a little girl is not all that different than to know me today. When I take time to remember this I appreciate my “differentness” on a much greater level. I remember as a kindergartener coloring outside the lines frequently in school and how many people (mainly authority figures such as teachers, parents, etc.) made a stink about this. I even have a strong memory of the topic being covered in a parent teacher conference (at five years old-c’mon!). I remember when asked by both my teacher and my parents why I was coloring outside the lines, with an obvious lack of concern or will to follow the “rule” of coloring inside the lines, and I replied, “ I don’t understand why I have to color in the lines” and “the rule doesn’t make sense to me”. As my father can contest, I never, ever accepted “because I said so” from adults. There was never any real attempt to explain to me why coloring within the lines was so important, who invented the rule, or what it represented, and certainly I am more than aware that the behavior was partly fueled by rebellion, but I was too young to understand rebellion as I do today. The commonality I distinctly feel in my bones between that time as a five year old and now a 39 year old, is that coloring outside the lines is just who I was and am. I was as comfortable then with that notion as I am today. There is an inherent instinctual need for me to simply be me, and that typically places me outside the lines and outside the circles where many people that I know stay neatly tucked comfortably inside of. It’s hard to intermingle in these circles deeply when you are an “outside the lines” type.
This way of being an “outside the lines” person, adventurous, inquisitive, different and essentially not fearing fear (despite feeling it profusely), is not without its challenges. I don’t believe it was a conscious choice to be who I am and I do believe that I rarely allowed myself to fight the natural tendency I had to be uniquely me. This was not easy, especially as a little girl when many of the adults in my life should have done more to support me. Coloring outside the lines as a five year old was when I first learned that being this way, true to one’s self and one’s own uniqueness, can be both lonely and isolating. Certainly as I grew into a woman it was also challenging and I can honestly say I was often scared of being me – afraid that others wouldn’t like me, afraid men wouldn’t want to be with me, afraid my friends would grow tired of my weirdness, and that most would not understand my mind patterns and way of thinking - but I rarely let this fear control me. I will admit I spent more time being lonely during my late 20’s and early 30’s, despite this being a time in my life I was meeting people from all over the world and getting to travel to amazing places. I believe this was the case for a few reasons, one of which was that I was discovering new skills and learning new things, developing a prestigious career in a male-dominated industry which can breed insecurities like bunnies in just about anyone. I have eventually come to learn that male-dominated worlds are like that, they prey off a woman’s innate sense of questioning and contemplation which makes them incredibly adaptable, but it also makes them incredibly susceptible to insecurity. I was no different with the exception of not letting my fear guide my path (at least not more than a few times in life). Even in the business world I was thought to be “a rarity”, an unusual addition to the industry and was certainly known for coloring outside the lines, and sometimes it was appreciated while other times it was scrutinized. My loneliness and isolation is felt less and less the older and more rooted in myself I become.
As the years have passed and birthdays come and go, I find more and more comfort in my own skin. When we are young, it is instinctual and when we are old it is wisdom. I still color outside the lines and am proud of that fact, but I am learning to understand that there are times when coloring inside the lines is needed, when compromise is necessary without sacrificing oneself, another part of both wisdom and comfort in one’s skin. I’m also aware that I need to place even more attention on learning this balance, especially if I want to form solid and lasting relationships with others, which I do.
As I move into another part of my life, a new year and a new career, I feel blessed; blessed to have 39 years under my skin of being uniquely me and having the wisdom to learn from the process. What I crave today for myself is very different than what I craved in the last ten years of life. In some ways, I feel like I am moving in a circle and heading back to the little creative girl who was innately and instinctually me, only wiser. Coloring outside the lines is who I am and I think my latest work is a reflection of this fact. My cooking for instance has recently come full circle, back to its place of being outside the lines, but the brief period it spent inside the lines taught me fundamentals I needed in order to capture greater depth and flavor. I feel that my life and my cooking are typically in sync and on the same page. So Happy Birthday to me, I am content with my unique self and my 39 years of coloring outside the lines. I encourage others to turn to their creative sides and challenge themselves.
Here is to another year of adventure, learning, and growth.
I believe fully I am still deep down a little child with lots to learn and lots to experience. I hope that I never lose the natural curiosity and openness of that little Nissa who just wanted to know why we must color inside the lines……to this day I still don’t have an answer and to this day I color outside the lines!
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