I was a zesty kid. I had opinions and lived with an exuberance that seemed to annoy most of the people around me. I was passionate about playing hard, I was a Bossy Girl, and I loved my friends with an ardent loyalty. If a kid’s life well lived is judged by the dirt under her nails and the scabs on her knees, then mine was, by far, a winner.
Somewhere along the line, however, the beautiful passion that infused my spirit was dampened — by disapproving looks, silent scowls, and the eighth-grade history teacher who told me to shut up when I was questioning and probing out loud. When the class cheered for him, it sealed the box on my passion, which burrowed deep into the protected coffers of my soul, only to be let out in the safest of circumstances. It was as if suddenly there were a huge billboard in my head, constantly reminding me of their disapproval and scrutiny.
I WANT TO GET DIRTY WITH THE STUFF OF LIFE, AND IF THAT’S CONSIDERED POOR ETIQUETTE, SO BE IT.
I survived these painful experiences, but my passion almost died. That fiery glow in my belly was almost extinguished, but now that I’m aware of its attempted assassination, I’ve reignited my passion and I intentionally choose to fan its red-hot flames regularly. Here are five things I did to resurrect my passion for life — you can, too.
STROLL DOWN THE LANE OF YOUR PASSION-MEMORIES.
Look at the scenery of your memories, and notice the times you felt the most alive, the most joyous, the most powerful. What were you doing, and how did that unbridled passion for life make you feel? Pay attention to everything — the way your body felt, your emotions, your thoughts — and give it a descriptive word. Mine is usually free. Next, pay attention to the other people in your memory. How are they responding to your power? Are they approving or disapproving? If they’re stealing your power in your memory, they might still be wielding that power in your adult life. It’s time to take it back.
NOTICE YOUR COLLUSION WITH THE ENEMY.
Of course, those people in your past are not really the enemy, per se. But their influence in your life is not serving you now, and the only one who’s letting that happen is you. So start to notice the times your passion, which by its very nature bubbles and glows with energy, attempts to thrust its way to the surface. Then, notice how you seek to squelch it. Herein lies your collusion. Pay attention to every time you stay silent when you want to speak, stay still when you want to move, or stay stuck when you desperately want to change. Ignited passion is the best sort of locomotive for living an action-filled life, and quite possibly, it’s those voices from your past that are derailing your passions from propelling you forward. Noticing how those voices operate is the first step in changing them.
REVISIT YOUR PLAYFULNESS.
Become a tourist in the ruins of your childhood and revisit play. Play is where your passions lived and breathed as a child, and you can rediscover them by engaging in grownup versions of your childhood imaginings. End your days with fifteen minutes of coloring in an adult coloring book, for example. If you loved playing school when you were a kid, enjoy a class somewhere. Take the clues from your childhood to unearth and rekindle the coals of your adult passion-life.
EXAMINE YOUR COHORTS.
We tend to collect the same kinds of people, until we decide not to. Who in your life is taking on the role of the scowler, the disapprover, or the silencer? What can you learn from the fact that you have invited them into your life, and how can you escort them out the door?
Of course, it’s not always possible to escort them entirely out of your life, but you can certainly disinvite them to the party in your head. There is no reason to offer them that real estate, so you can refuse to allow them to diminish your passion and the way it infuses your life. The most practical way to manifest in your life is to simply stop sharing the parts of you they disapprove of, and consider it their loss.
DECIDE EVERY DAY TO BE YOU.
It’s almost laughable in its simplicity, I know, but it’s more complicated than it seems. Every time we stay silent or still when we’d rather do the opposite, we are not being who we are. Sometimes, we tread so lightly over other people’s emotions that we stomp all over our own in mud-covered work boots. Manners and politeness have their place, and I am certainly not advocating that we throw them out the window. But let’s be clear: if someone is putting you down to make themselves feel superior, they are not being polite.
I want to get dirty with the stuff of life, and if that’s considered poor etiquette, so be it. I’m willing to scrape up my knees and elbows, skidding into work, leadership, and relationships with my imperfections raging if it means
I might eke out every ounce of my potential. And yes, I have had more than my fair share of scowlers along the way, who have poked and jabbed at my every insecurity.
But I’m putting up a different billboard in my head, and their words are drowned out in the big, bright, brilliant color of it. My billboard has my words on it, my life, and my big, bright, brilliant-burning soul.