How The Child In Me Taught Me to Live Shamelessly 

It takes courage to grow up, and turn out to be who you really are
— E.E. Cummings

I knew at age three I wanted to be on stage in dance recitals, wearing shiny tap shoes, just like my older sister Lisa. I wasn’t timid or apprehensive as a kid. In fact, I was dubbed “the informer” at the innocent age of four by my family. My mom loves to tell stories of how she needed to meticulously hide every birthday present in the most obscure places. She knew her shameless informer would go hunting for them and spill the details to her siblings without a second thought. 

Favorite pastimes as a child included lip-syncing and dancing to Blondie and The Cover Girls in front of our giant VHS camcorder. Also being sure my voice was heard. I was quoted in the Providence Journal at eleven years old for defending the New Kids On the Block from haters (weird fact that I’m not making up). I suppose a little humility was lost on me.

As the inevitability of growing older unfolded, the opinions of others and the world’s false perceptions began to cloud my natural ability of not caring what others thought of me. I had one foot in the bucket of clarity and the understanding of who I was as an individual - an optimist at heart, a communicator, a day dreamer. The other foot lay planted too firmly in the ideologies that swirl among us as we navigate into adulthood. The gross misconceptions that we dream up in our minds. 

Don’t appear to be too outspoken, or ambitious. You might be perceived as conceited or full of yourself.

Don’t come across too smart, you will be labeled nerdy.  

Don't tell that boy he's making you upset, you might come across too soft or emotional (such a lie). 

And please do not, under any circumstances, color outside the lines and follow those dreams you hold so dear. Life doesn’t work that way. You have to stay in the box and play by the rules. 

I played small for a long time. I started to believe that life was linear and lacked fluidity. That being ourselves was risky. The extrovert in me was riding in the passenger seat, while the introvert took the wheel. To paint a picture of what that looks like is a bit of a travesty. Speaking up became an intimidation, and asking myself the right questions as to what made my heart sing. For years I was not in any sense of the word - “living a shameless life”. 

I suppose that is the truth behind being shameless in our lives. Standing, jumping, running towards the truth that is you, and never giving a second thought to those that are mocking you along the way. 

There is no pivotal moment of truth or clarity that suddenly came to me. I cannot pinpoint one particular scenario that shifted my thinking and urged me to start to live more shamelessly, to live like I mean it. It may have been the accumulation of all those decisions that weren’t suited for me, and I reached a breaking point. Maybe it has creeped up with age. Either way, I am still very much a work in progress. But I have learned that we must live shamelessly. With all of our might, it’s essential to our happiness. Not the happiness that is attached to outcomes, the real raw kind of happiness that feels natural and effortless. 

I take conscious steps towards a future that spells out what I want in life. 
I set boundaries. 
I do not apologize for being the eternal optimist. 
I write the truth. 
I try to stop myself from caring what others think (hard to do but necessary).
I say no, when I want to. 
I say yes, when I want to.  
I recognize failure, and admit to mistakes. 
I keep my circle small, and never apologize for spending time by myself. 
I eat ice cream out of the carton (such a rebel), and blast the damn music with the windows rolled down. 
I don’t cover up my grays, I feel blessed to be getting older. 
I break plans to clean my house.  
I swear like a trucker.
I embrace my contradictions.
I remind myself to take more risks when I start feeling too comfortable. 
I don’t follow trends because social media or a magazine said so. 

One of my favorite quotes in this world is from the poet Rumi, “Your heart knows the way, run in that direction.” It’s simple but profound. I have it written down on a piece of paper and leave it by my bed as a reminder that to be brave, to live shamelessly, we have to unlearn those things that hold us back. I suppose living shamelessly is simply being ourselves.  

Most days I think of myself as that kid, that would dance like nobody’s watching. I know she would say “you got this, run like hell towards all of it and don't you dare look back”.