I was freezing. I had warm clothes on, and a cozy blanket over me. It was the middle of July. And I was shivering. I don't know exactly what temperature the thermostat was set at, but I think it was "arctic". My lips were turning blue, but rather than simply addressing the situation, I was having an inner debate with myself. One side of my brain was saying "Get up! Adjust the temperature! This is ridiculously cold. Take care of it so you can get some sleep." But I wasn't getting up. Why? Because the other side of my brain was saying "You don't have permission to do that."
There was no reason for me to think I should need permission, really. Nobody was going to punish me for adjusting it. My roommate appeared to be sleeping, so I couldn't ask her. But the fact is, she later got up and adjusted it herself, while I was sleeping. So I'm sure she would have been fine if I had done the same. And after that first night I adjusted the thermostat whenever I felt like it, and it never seemed to be a problem. But why couldn't I do it without someone else doing it first?
As befuddled as I was by my own behavior, I've noticed similar behavior in other people as well. I was chatting with a fellow mom recently, and I was shocked by her comments. Twice she mentioned wanting to do something, but stated that she couldn't because her children (grown children) wouldn't let her. This was a fully grown adult, not doing something that she was perfectly capable of doing, because her children were bossing her around. And she was calmly letting them. I wanted to shake her and tell her to take charge of her own life, but at the same time I was startled by the recognition of myself.
This is a very disconcerting realization. For someone who deeply hates being told what to do, I somehow have this need to "get permission" to live my own life. I need someone to tell me that it's okay to make my own choices. I want someone older than me to tell me that I'm allowed to follow my dreams. That I can walk my own path. That I don't have to follow the scripted story that my culture has already written for me, but I can instead create my own story. How many times have I held myself back, because I was waiting? Waiting, essentially, for the acknowledgement that I have the right to be here. I have the right to be HERE, on this
earth, making an impression--for good or for bad--on the people around me, and on the universe in general.
My husband and I make jokes that we don't feel like we are "adult" enough yet, even though we are solidly in our thirties. We still feel like kids in grown-up bodies sometimes. As much as we chuckle over that, there are layers of truth in those comments. I suspect one layer is the fallout from being well-behaved kids. As children, we accepted that we needed to ask permission from adults to do virtually everything. If someone didn't give you permission, then you just didn't do it. Then suddenly we became adults and in theory didn't need to get permission anymore. But there's a little girl in my head who hasn't gotten that memo yet.
I am positive that I am not alone in this. At the very least, I'm in the company of that other mom. But I think there are many other people out there, who are also waiting. There are dreamers who are letting their dreams drift away from them simply because they haven't been told it's okay to go catch them. There are gifted, creative, passionate people who are letting their inner fire die out because they don't think they have the right to keep it lit. There are many, many people who aren't living the life they really want because they are doing what society has told them to do, rather than what they want to do. If this is you, then listen up: I give you permission. You don't really NEED permission. You are entitled to live your own life the way you truly want to. But I know how hard it is to convince your inner voice of that. So here's your permission: Go for it. Make that choice. Step out. Shake things up. Or at the very least, adjust the thermostat. You are worthy of making an impression.
I am so glad you are here! Welcome to my blog. This is your space, too. My name is Amy, and I am no stranger to the ups and downs of life. Join me as we search for beauty, authenticity, tell our truth, and hold space for each other in the messiness of life.