Over the years, either due to my physiological makeup or my surroundings, I’ve become the type of person that MUST draw inside the lines. I was, or so I’m told, a pretty “easy” baby. I didn’t cry too much. I slept and played, and when I could talk I didn’t talk back and when I could walk I didn’t run away or hit or fight. If I really think about it, I was probably born that way.  Here’s one example of my easy going nature: my mother was only in labor for 20 minutes. What I was probably thinking at the time of delivery was “sure mom, I’ll leave my safe, warm home that I’ve known for the last 9 months and I’ll do it as quickly as possible! No problem!”  I was a people-pleaser from day one. Most would say I’m a rather agreeable person.  Most people, however, don’t know that there’s a whole other persona living inside me, waiting to get out and cause trouble. 

My rebel. 

I believe that inside all of us dwells a rebel. Now, the word rebel can have a negative connotation, but most of the time it’s used to describe hooligans like the Fonzie who never actually rebelled in any serious way, but instead won everyone over with his leather jacket and catchy sayings. That kind of rebel is fairly harmless. But the rebel inside us all is much more treacherous. This kind of rebel has a much louder voice and demands attention–demands to be listened to. I used to be afraid of the rebel inside me. I used to try to quiet her and dilute the truths she was telling me with watery lies. My rebel says things people don’t like to hear. My rebel does not let those around me calmly float in the boat of life; no, she insists on rocking everyone out of their comfort zones. The rebel is that voice. You know, the one that calls bullshit when someone is talking to you and says something so obviously untrue, or the one that punches you in the face when you agree with some dumb comment or person “just because.” I have tried and tried over the years to control my rebel, lock her up and throw away the key. But when I put her on mute she finds other ways to speak to me.  For example, if I’m not listening to her she’ll come out when I’ve, say, had one tee many martoonies.  She has made a fool of me on numerous occasions. 

Now, she is me, I can’t deny that. I can’t pawn all my bad decisions off on her. However, I do believe that if the rebel isn’t cared for, if she doesn’t have a healthy outlet, she will become a destructive monster who crushes everything around her (picture Godzilla with an attitude).  This may be subtle; maybe a mother whose children have left the house doesn’t know what to do with her time so she starts drinking. She feels unimportant, bored, and invisible. The rebel might be telling her to try something new, or to reach out to others and tell them she’s drowning. Instead, she ignores the rebel, remains the person she’s been for the last 30 years and fills her emptiness with vodka. Just one example. Or maybe she’s a wife whose husband is often away for work and she can’t cope with the loneliness. Her rebel is telling her to cry out to her husband, to tell him she can’t do it, but instead she plays the good-girl card, buckles down, and tries to be strong. Her strength falters when another man gives her much needed attention, and her rebel sends her into his arms. The scenarios are endless.

 I believe the rebel is a part of us to give us a regular gut check. “Am I being the person I want to be? Is this decision coming solely from me or am I doing this to please others?” The rebel is the brave warrior who keeps away the imposter–the false self that we cling to for comfort and acceptance.  My false self wants everyone to be happy. It doesn’t ever want to say anything that might hurt another person. It can’t say no, it can’t be sad, and it sure as hell can’t make mistakes. I hate this impostor. I’ve been working, alongside my rebel, to pry away the claws this impostor has lodged into my being. I don’t know what is more devastatingly sad than to let a beautiful, unique soul be taken over by the falsities and expectations of this world. We need our rebel to keep us real and to make us genuine human beings. 

I want to be truly content within myself; a confident woman who stands behind her words and choices. I want to know myself and not hesitate and not conform. It’s been hard to come to terms with this rebel. After making a devastating mistake, I cried out to a friend and told her about the part of me that just wanted to go against the grain, take risks and break the rules. I was lamenting about how I just needed to pray more or read more and just push it down and be good and strong. But she said “no Courtney, you need your rebel. Your rebel probably just saved your life.” I had just made the biggest mistake of my life and she was able to see good in it. She saw that I was put in a situation that was killing my soul. My rebel was trying to help me find a way out, and instead of finding a healthy outlet I sought a destructive one. The mistake caused me to break out of the crusty shell I had been living in and take a hard look at my life, to really take a look at the person I had become.

 I’m still learning to reign in my rebel, learning to communicate with her and find simple ways to make her happy. For instance, last time my husband was out of town I felt the need to rebel in some way (who knows why). It was late and I had to take the dog out, and after she finished pooping, I thought, “you know what? I’m not picking that up.”

 Not picking up my dogs shit was my outlet. My way of rebelling that day. 

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It feels good to peel away the impostor–to know that the messy, imperfect person underneath is finally showing. Give in to the rebel. Trust your gut. Take a risk every once in a while because the sensation of walking in your own skin is just incredible.

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