We’ve all heard the phrase, “Live your life out loud.” But we’ve also been told to “Keep it down”, “Don’t cause ripples”, “Work hard”, and “That’s just the way it is.” The mixed messages we get while we traverse our lives make it difficult to figure out exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. Parents want us to do this, friends want us to do that, society puts its expectations on us to be productive members. It’s all so confusing.
One of my “gifts” that I learned at a later age that serves me well is to be whom I am with no excuses. I don’t have to be a stick thin woman. I don’t have to dumb myself down. I don’t have to hide my past or try to be someone I’m not. If I want to wear kitty ears, pirate hats, or super-hero capes when I go out in public, why the heck not? It makes me happy, harms no one, and brings a jolt of the unexpected to a world that lingers in melancholy.
But, how did I get to this point? How did I get “brave” enough to be me?
It happened on accident. “I” snuck up on myself. Most of my life was spent trying to do what I was expected but it never quite fit “me.” I’m loud. I’m bawdy. I love to eat, raise hell, and laugh a LOT. Without arrogance I can tell you I’m wicked smart, have great ideas, and apply my skills in unique and creative ways that don’t always coincide with the expectations of my occupations.
Every job I’ve ever had, with few exceptions, didn’t last long because I just couldn’t stay still long enough. Once I felt I’d mastered whatever it was, I wanted change. Sometimes it was voluntary and sometimes it wasn’t when I left a job. My least favorite positions were those where I wasn’t trained properly but expected to perform circus tricks with information that didn’t apply to the job at hand. My favorite positions were ones where I not only satisfied my creative needs but was allowed to be “a little off-beat.” Being a radio DJ, copy writer, and producing commercials satisfied all of those needs and although my reasons for leaving that position are complicated, I was in the process of moving to Tennessee to take care of my nephew.
When I was very young, I was constantly performing. Plays, jokes, being a mosquito, writing fake cursive on notes that I expected my younger brother to “read.” My Aunt Lizzie used to say that I marched to the beat of a different drummer only my drummer played the tuba. I loved wild clothes and climbing trees. I participated in nearly everything with all of me, unless it meant being in public. I didn’t much like that.
I got lucky enough to find a couple of people that showed me a fascinating truth about myself. Shanna Harris started it. One day she was a gas station attendant, the next moment, after my soul recognized hers and hers mine, we were inseparable. We had long talks, longer walks, and lived in a town that was too small for the both of our wild ways. By wild ways, I mean that we liked to be loud. We liked to be bawdy (me more than her), we liked to live out loud. But, as fates would have it, I moved away to a couple of places before I settled in Show Low, AZ.
At first I was doing a boring office job selling a product I didn’t care about for a ridiculously low salary of 100 bucks every two weeks. Anyway, opportunity knocked when the local radio station was looking for weekend help. I immediately applied.
I became a monkey pushing buttons to make sure shows ran at the times they were supposed to on the station they were supposed to run. I wasn’t good at it at first. In fact, I got reprimanded about a month into it being told either get it right or get out. I buckled down because, dude, I worked at a radio station and how cool was that?
It wasn’t long before they discovered I could write. When they did, I started writing nearly every commercial that came out of the station. When I figured out production, I added that to my skills. When they needed a substitute for the morning show, I stepped up and gave them banter. When they wanted remote talent for broadcasts, I’d either work the studio end or head out to the place they wanted to promote.
When football season came around, I played a game with the announcers. I’d give them a topic before they went out to the field and they’d incorporate that into their broadcast. Let’s say the topic was fish. For every reference to “A whale of a play” or “They look like they’re stacked like sardines in that tackle” they’d get a point. It was a lot of fun.
I made friends. LOTS of them, but my core posse was Carrie, Stephanie, and Bean. We went and did everything together. The more outrageous I got, the more they cheered me on with their own ridiculous hats and jokes. We sang loudly, drank more, and laughed a LOT. They forced me to realize that my oddities were exactly what made me so much fun to be around which in turn made me realize that maybe I wasn’t so bad after all.
So when I say “I” snuck up on myself, I mean it in the sense that once I realized that being me made me happy, once I accepted that who I am is a pretty cool person to be, I was able to explore what I wanted to be and how I wished others to see me.
Yes. I’m eccentric and off-kilter and I don’t always see things the way other people do, but I also realized that my voice is necessary to make changes in the world. Just like you, I doubted I was important. I didn’t believe I was worthy. I didn’t think people would want to hear the voice of a woman who likes rabbit ears in July. But you know what? They do.
People want to hear the truth even when society tells them to be this or do that. They want to see that being unique can be accomplished. They want to know that their own oddities, even when in private, are okay. How do you live out loud? You do what makes you happy in the biggest and best way because that, my friend, is the greatest gift you can give to the world, YOU!