This article was originally published on HerAfter, a lifestyle site devoted to helping women live conscious, beautiful lives even after big struggles.
There are times to wait for life to invite you forward into new experiences. If it's meant to happen and the world takes it upon itself to make sure you're aware, it might just offer you a 'sign'.
Then there are times that life waits for you to put things into motion. And oh, this sweet and giving universe is so desperately and patiently waiting for you to take the leap so it can support you and peel your eyes wide open upon your dreams. Life's love for you is so big and so grand, it only supports you whether you go after big or small things. Have you been going after small things?
As we talked about last week with the typical reaction to cancer (the "if my life was in danger, I'd do something crazy!" answer), it's of vital important to look at life as a temporary state. Let me beg you like a needy child on this, let me tug on the hems of your dress until you can't ignore me anymore: Even the moments that drag, meandering on, don't negate life's brevity. The gift of existence, so quickly held and then recanted, should only be respected for it's impermanence.
So again, why are so many of us waiting for something big, something terrible - like a death threat from cancer or a divorce or a winning lottery ticket - to start truly living? They say that necessity is the mother of invention; but we have all the necessity we need. Death is one of the few certainties in life. We already have that big thing, that big excuse to go after what we dream...
Here's the real truth about getting what you want out of life:
YOU are given permission to have everything we want by the simple, profound fact that you are here. Our existence is all the justification we need.
And our impermanence, the knowledge that we won't always be here, is why now is the time to act.
Think of all the areas like love, travel, self-appreciation and job aspirations, that we're waiting for our permission slip. If anyone has ever asked what you want to do with your life, and your answer was "I don't know", then what you've really said is "I'm waiting for my permission slip, and I don't even know what the slip will look like." In other words, your hunting in the dark for something you don't know how to identify as what you need.
For women, I see the need for a permission slip in order to appreciate our bodies so prevalently. We're waiting for it to show up on the weight scale, in the perfect dress, in the right person to tell us we're beautiful. We're waiting for permission from everyone else to tell us we should worship and cherish our bodies.
photo by HerAfter.com
But you know what I'm about to say. You know deep down this truth, don't you?
There is only one person who can grant you permission to be happy and fulfilled and content, and that person is you. And you've been hoping I wouldn't tell you because that knowledge gives you POWER. And that power is intimidating, isn't it? Don't let the fear of taking responsibility keep you from offering yourself permission to live.
Even if you at first have to deal with the guilt of messing things up till now, accepting responsibility is still the only place you can start your personal revolution. You are the CEO of company YOU. You are the pilot of the flight that is your trajectory. You are the director of your story, as we discussed here. In whatever Pinterest-framed-art way you need to phrase it, you must take responsibility for the fact that not only are you in charge of your life, but it's time to make some major decisions and open some new doors. For the betterment of you, and for a world that needs you to be your best so we can start fixing things.
That's your permission to travel, to love your body, to take an entire day off work to bake muffins. Start by giving yourself permission to sit, quietly, with a pen and paper and write down what it is you'd like to accomplish and experience. This permission includes privacy from other people as well as other responsibilities. It's permission to only focus on what's in your heart and not worry about anything else for just a little while. Can't you feel how hard I'm tugging on your hems?
Once you know what you want to do (or at least a start), then identify what's in the way:
What fears are keeping you from allowing yourself permission to move forward?
Who are you waiting for to tell you that it's your turn to be happy?
What sign are you hoping will show up so you can take the next step?
What will it take for you to get fed up from hiding all that power and potential you have inside?
It still takes everything I have to give myself permission to break down. For me, that's bigger than the permission to travel the world or switch careers. But to break apart into fragmented pieces of my coherent, expected self, to admit my own fears and un-brick the walls around my insecurities, that takes all my slips. It's not always about big goals, sometimes it's about the full, vast, encompassing experience of the human heart. Sometimes it's enough to give permission for all your emotions to be expressed. In the end I find it reveals all the limitless connections in our lives: the way we cry for happiness and for joy, the way that laughter is a universal language, the communication that happens without words, all the sounds and stories of the natural world that echo in our lives and art.
Give yourself permission to be exactly who you are, expressing all your individual dreams. Liberate your self from yourself.
And just in case you're still wondering: Yes, this is A SIGN.
Rachael Yahne is a writer, blogger, cancer survivor and the author of HerAfter.com, a women's site about conscious and stylish living. After years as a fashion journalist, she now writes women's lifestyle articles about life, love, style, and thriving after surviving not just cancer, but all of life's big battles. You can catch up with her on Twitter ( @RachaelYahne ) and read more of her work at HerAfter.com