Find Your Voice
Colin Firth just won an Oscar for his portrayal of a King who, at a pivotal scene in the film, shouts, “I have a voice!” Lady Gaga caused quite a stir on the Grammy’s red carpet when she arrived in an egg to belt out her new hit Born This Way – a song about celebrating individuality and our unique contributions to the world. Singer John Mayer put it succinctly with the lyrics to his song Say (what you need to say). There is a definite theme running like a current through popular culture. Are you feeling it?
I sure am. Just before Christmas last year, I saw the movie Burlesque. (Yes: I love musicals and dance, and I’m proud to admit it.) In the film, Cher played the role of a club owner on the brink of losing her life’s work. While the story was trite and predictable, I left the theatre in awe of Cher. You may remember Cher from her heyday in the 1970’s, showing up at awards shows in crazy Bob Mackie gowns and head-gear.
She was the Lady Gaga of a different generation. Now, at 65 years old, she is unbelievable. I know she’s had some facial work done, but her body is unbelievably fit. In one scene, she straddled a chair backwards, in tight jeans and thigh-high boots. I forgot I was looking at someone who could collect social security. Right then and there, Cher helped me release expectations of how someone my age (20 years younger than she is!) should present herself to the world.
It seems that the reign of cookie cutter way of living – being and doing what we should or what’s expected of us – is slowly giving way to a recognition of the importance of individuality. Quirky? Good. A health nut? Bring it on. A nerd? Yeah, baby. Snappy? Snap.
Maybe it’s because, as a society, we’re aging. Past the age of wanting to fit in, we’re more interested in being who we are. Maybe it’s because we’re bored. Seriously, the big box corporations have taken over the landscape, offering us few options for what to wear, how to entertain ourselves – even what foods we can buy at the grocery store. Perhaps our evolution to individuality is merely a push-back against conformity.
Whatever the cause, I’m having increasingly more conversations with friends and coaching clients about finding out who they are, what really matters to them, how they want to show up in the world, and how they can contribute. It may sound simple enough, but it takes work sometimes to release the expectations that have become habits; and to get to the core of our own personalities and our true dreams and goals.
And it’s important work for each of us to do. Because, to quote Ms. Gaga, God (Spirit/Source/Universe) makes no mistakes. Each of us is here for a unique purpose, to add a distinct flavour to the grand scheme – even though we don’t know what the grand scheme is. Not being who you really are is denying you, and the rest of us, the fullness of our experience in this lifetime.
On the flipside of allowing yourself to be who you are, of course, is the acceptance of others being who they are. Rather than judging the kid with the pierced face, accept where she is on her journey and how she expresses that. Instead of sending your teen to university or college with the goal of “getting a good job,” give him or her the freedom to follow their passions, even if you don’t understand them. Rather than looking down your nose at Lady Gaga for her attention-provoking antics, embrace the role she is playing in helping each of us to let go of the chains that bind. As long as we treat each other with courtesy and respect, does it really matter that I like musicals and you’d rather sit in a hockey arena watching grown men pass a puck back and forth? Does it really matter if your child is a nerd? One of mine is – and she’s got the t-shirt to prove it! But she’s a nerd with a great fashion sense, so she’s quite a delight to behold. Life will be much more fulfilling when we bust loose and become who we’re meant to be.
And don’t be surprised to find me wearing my brand new thigh-high black leather boots the next time we meet.