I was wearing my mud splattered hiking boots when I dropped my children off at school today. Most other moms wore cute little ankle boots or tennis shoes with yoga pants. My hiking boots were different from the norm. The first time I wore my hiking boots to school, I told myself that if I still worked as a Naturalist, I would be wearing these same boots at drop off. That is how I first worked up the courage to wear them, thinking that others probably thought I was heading to work.
A few years ago, I wouldn’t have worn my hiking boots to the school. As an introvert, I would rather blend into a crowd than stand out. I have purposely chosen to live my life differently over the past 5 years. Those choices have changed me and our family.
Most of the changes have taken place within me. Some of the changes can only be seen if you get to know me and my family a little better. We live slightly off center of mainstream culture.
Over the past 5 years, we’ve:
- Downsized to a smaller, more affordable home
- Became a single income family
- Lived debt free, except for our mortgage
- Purged our possessions
- Chosen a simpler life
My husband and I weren’t happy with our lives when we both worked full-time and lived in a bigger, more expensive house. So we started making changes. We started moving toward the life we wanted instead of the life we thought we were supposed to live. Life got hard, and we were even pushed farther down that path. (Read more about my journey to become a stay at home mom and how I dealt with difficult life events.)
Circumstances led me to explore my dreams and inner life more. I read Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, and that encouraged me even further into being myself, rather than trying to live a life I was not happy living.
Dare to be Different
Wearing my hiking boots is a reflection of what I have been through and how I am slowly learning self-acceptance.
Now when I put them on, I’m daring to be different. Daring to be me, the real me. I AM a little different, and I’m okay with that. Be different. Be yourself. The world needs the real me and the real you.
The real me is someone who hikes in the wintertime and loves being outside right after it snows. And today, I was not disappointed. Deer, squirrels, raccoons, and a fox had all left signs that they had been out before me meandering to a tree or down to the stream. The trees were blanketed in snow and the whole hike was picturesque as it sparkled in the early morning light.
I’d rather be me and enjoy a beautiful walk in a snowy woods, than concern myself over what somebody thinks of my hiking boots. Who knows? Somebody might even be thinking that it looks like I am going on a hike and wish they could go for a hike, too. I think that is the story I will tell myself if I waver in my thoughts. For now, I will simply enjoy being me on my hikes.
If you were not concerned with what other people thought of you, what would you do?