I was in yoga class, in downward-facing dog, when I reached my right leg high and long behind me.
It felt like my toes touched the studio ceiling.
And I know that this was intrinsically connected to my internal manifestation and declaration of something that I had been burying for far too long within my cumbersome chest—since my youthful days when it was expected: I Am a Rebel.
And this is my Rebel’s Manifesto.
I wear my heart on an occasionally tattered sleeve.
I have a college degree, but I consider myself to be educated through life’s experiences, teachings and my willingness to learn from them.
I eat what I want to, what feels good for my body, and I try to purchase and eat my food mindfully. I don’t eat for the latest vegetable craze or what someone else thinks is healthy for five minutes before it changes again.
I move my body because it feels good, not because I want to fit into a certain size or shape.
And I don’t buy that fit is the new skinny. That’s a gross exaggeration of what’s normal too.
Self-indulgence is not self-care. (Thank you to my friend for putting this one so eloquently into words.)
I stopped coloring my hair because, as it turns out, I like both my natural brown as well as my greys, but this doesn’t mean that I’ll never have blonde highlights again.
I like to feel the sun on my skin, but I’d rather be hiking and sweating my butt off than lying in a reclined chair with my bikini on (although those days were thoroughly enjoyed and not regretted).
I do believe in regrets. But I don’t have any.
I like some of the most obscure bands that are nearly unheard of…and I own more than one season soundtrack of Glee. (My ears don’t know what’s cool, just what gives my tender flesh goosebumps.)
I would rather watch one of my husband’s nerdy science documentaries than most of the shows people are talking about on Facebook. (But don’t tell him please.)
Sometimes the weight of my breaking heart feels like a rock in the pocket of my dress, bringing me down to the bottom of the lake as I walk into the water. Just as I realize that I have no air left to breathe—my wounded soul depleted—the dawning sun tickles cheek and I feel my arms being tugged at, freeing me from my gloomy despair. My savior? Myself.
I have a temper, and a wildly passionate spirit.
I’m impatient, and I’m wonderfully proactive.
I have flaws and idiosyncrasies—thank God.
I believe in something much bigger than me, but I don’t believe in praying to it for what my human incarnation wants—yet I’m genuinely inspired that some people do.
I want to teach my children that worth has nothing to do with dollar signs, collected trinkets, or countable paper accolades.
I want to teach my children to be rebels.
I want them to know that the best person they can be is a reflection of much more than a status quo.
I’ve realized that embracing rebellion doesn’t mean fighting for no reason or standing out when it’s not necessary. It means letting the fire within us shine so brightly that the blaze can’t help but catch the world on fire.
And I want to live in a world with light.
And I’ve always been different.
I had six nicknames in preschool that I made up for myself—J, Jenn with two n’s, Jen with one—and I made my teachers call me by my name of the day.
And we’ve all always been different. I have an identical twin and she is not my doppelganger.
Before we write in with parts of this manifesto that we don’t agree with, let’s set the story clear that I hope anyone who reads this has an entirely unique list, made from items completely contrasting my own.
All that I ask—the declaration that set me free in my downward-facing dog—is that we not get so caught up in our need for societal acceptance and belonging that we forget whose approval really counts: our own.
This article was first published by elephant journal.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons