Most of us try not to acknowledge the unarguable fact that one day we are going to die, and when the thought arises, we quickly suppress it rather than think about it.
And yet, there is something incredibly liberating about facing up to your impending death. (News flash – It’s impending for all of us not just me – sorry to be so brutal).
Rather, it can be liberating if you aren’t paralysed by fear.
I was brought up to conform. To be a good girl. To do the “right thing”. And I was pretty good at it if I might say so myself. I almost turned it into an art form. The only problem was, I lost myself in the process. I hit 40 and I realised I didn’t know who I was. In fact, I went so far as to say back then that there was no “Rebecca” just someone who became whatever she thought someone else wanted her to be. I just wanted to make everyone happy. (I was a perfect fit for the psychological profile of a woman most likely to get breast cancer – funny that).
It took a lot of hard work and many years to find myself, and I still had tendencies to regress to people pleasing but the icing on the cake, the final coup de resistance was a terminal cancer diagnosis and even then it took another year for the full sense of liberation to sink in (I’m a bit of a slow learner sometimes).
I had a slowly dawning epiphany (is that an oxy moron?) – but one day I really got it -really, really got it: I could do anything I wanted, live how I wanted – people would excuse me (most people actually didn’t care anyway, and seriously, I need an excuse?) because – I’m dying right? I don’t need to conform.
Some people are born believing they can do whatever the hell they want. Right from the get go they live life on their own terms. Their parents might have post traumatic stress by the time the kid reaches adulthood, and in the worst case scenario the kid turns into a narcissist, but they seem to be born with a strong sense of self.
I don’t recall ever having that, and it wasn’t something that was encouraged in the culture I grew up in. I thought I had to be perfect in order to be acceptable. And perfect meant not rocking the boat (read – someone elses’s boat) – ever.
So I learnt how to repress myself, hold myself back, put everyone else first, conform to popular opinion etcetera etcetera, but that isn’t really living.
We all have our own talents, idiosyncrasies, insecurities, strengths and weaknesses. We are all unique. And we are meant to be. Differences add richness and meaning to life.
We are meant to live the best version of ourselves that we can. It is only our wounds that stop us from doing this. We are meant to be Real, Authentic, Vulnerable and Loving. When we are this, genuine deep connections with other people are made. Connections that are lasting, supportive and fulfilling.
And in the end, that is what really matters. We are hard wired for connection. Our physiology is designed for it, our psychology is designed for it, and it is what our soul longs for.
To our-self first, others, community, nature and a Higher Power (in whichever way is meaningful for us).
So, I ask you again…. what are you doing with this one precious life?
Are you being you? Really you?
Are you brave enough to love and be loved?
Brave enough to allow yourself to be vulnerable?
Brave enough to walk to your own drumbeat?
I hope so, because believe me, life is short – sometimes it is shorter than you think, so fill it up with love and beauty and passion and joy – all the things that feed your soul and make you feel alive.
Life is for living.