I watched the movie “Yentl” for the second time since it was released. I wept while holding hands with my Sweet Love during the scene in which Yentl finally tells her friend, Avigdor, the truth that she is a woman. To pursue her dreams of learning, of being a scholar of the Talmud, she chose to hide her identity as a woman. Jewish beliefs of that time forbid women from scholarly pursuits. The idea that women couldn’t think deeply about religious topics or other domains of life outside of the domestic realm ran deep and wide among many individuals. To become the scholarly person she wanted to be, Yentl pretended to be a young man. Wearing short hair, a cap, eyeglasses, and men’s clothing, Yentl disguised herself. She sang songs that gave voice to the honest feelings she experienced inside herself as she observed the love bloom between Avigdor and the woman he adored, Hadass. Yentl realized she loved them both in different ways.
I thought of the many times in my life when I knew I hid horrific secrets about what had happened to me and who I thought I was according to the labels others used to describe me. More than anything in the world, I yearned to be loved, to be loving in the similar ways Yentl realized she wanted to be loved, accepted, and to love others as much as she loved learning.
I vividly remember the moment I told my parents I chose to be a feng shui consultant and to create Cherish Your World. Like Yentl, I felt like I vulnerably removed layers of clothing laden with my parents’ ever-changing, suffocating expectations and stood bravely, passionately naked in front of my parents. They refused to make eye contact and spoke the usual “pull out all the stops” reactions of what Martha Beck and others call the “change-back attacks.” Fortunately, most of me did not require their approval, and all of me had expected the barrage of disdain, disgust, and contempt with intermittent periods of seething silence.
The opportunity emerged to fulfill a different yearning. I faced the reactions of my parents. My parents did not fit the category of “people whose eyes light up when you tell them your unconventional dreams.”
I realize they held tightly to fears and maybe their primal shame. They likely saw themselves as victims of judgment. I also finally accepted that their reactions had little to do with me. My parents, especially my mother, live in my heart as my most significant teachers of rich, painful lessons in being human and humane. I know they didn’t know what they didn’t know. I keep rediscovering forgiveness, a radical acceptance, and layers of compassion in the wake of their deaths.
I know love transcends labels; the disguises people wear in what is now called Imposter Syndrome. I don’t think it’s a disease, but rather many disguises people begin to wear to avoid abandonment, rejection, and shame. A tension emerges around an individual’s deepest yearnings which can include a joyous, life-giving, unconventional path and the restrictive beliefs of one’s family, religion, government, or culture.
If you are brave enough to choose the unconventional path of doing what you want to do and being the joyous, loving, enthusiastic person you want to be, then be aware that you likely will lose connections with certain people. There will be those individuals who feel threatened by your choice to break with the beliefs of a group. You may face annihilating rage storms and torrential downpours of shame which might include all the ways they know you will fail. You may need to stare at your own primal shame place, unravel, and disperse the thoughts bottled up inside that beast.
Your path is not for the faint of heart, cowards, or those who desperately need to lie to themselves to fit in with specific groups of humans.
Evolving beyond belonging and shifting towards a place of knowing you exist in an infinite world of possibilities requires examining and dismantling beliefs—many you’ve probably not believed for a long time. You can use the criticism to challenge you to find inner peace and creativity. You can commit to no longer lying to yourself and taking joy-filled actions which bring your heart and soul to life. You can love beyond belief this precious, beautiful life you are here to live in freedom during this whisper of time on planet earth.
May you live free to choose your path.
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately supports people thriving by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, and life. Laura is the published author of four books including Live Inspired which reveals the brave and deep work of self-discovery and her new book of short writings and poetry Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving, and Living Free where with her characteristic grace and candor, Laura shares thoughtful-sometimes comical reflections on healing, loving and living free as inspirational pathways for experiencing a soul-centered, fulfilled life.