When I was 11, I had a little pink Minnie Mouse journal. Minnie. Mouse. At 11. Ah, the innocence!
Anyway, it had a lock on it, which could easily be picked with a bobby pin, but I felt cool about the whole thing, because it was wholly and truly mine.
Here was a place to store all my secrets, all those things that I thought but never said out loud. Here was a place where no-one could tell me what to say or think, a place of freedom in a world full of rules.
I felt very grown-up and cool. At that time, it seemed that most every girl on TV whom I loved, had a diary. Including my favourite: Punky Brewster.
As I head through my 30s I’m realising that, curiously enough, much of my life has been influenced by Penelope “Punky” Brewster. My love for bright colours and eccentric hair accoutrements. An appetite for adventure and striking out on your own. A sense that life should be bigger and more exciting than colouring between the lines (although I am a STICKLER for colouring between the lines; ask Bren).
Oh and speaking of Bren, an unstoppable attraction to the free-thinkers, the people who have never given up on their childlike sense of wonder and joy, the freaks and the artists, the people who swim upstream and cause others to question why they’re following everyone downstream.
I had totally forgotten about my love for Punky until a few weeks ago, when my friend Mona called me. I was shooting the second season of Drop 5 (whoopee!), so she left me a voicemail that I’ll love until the day the good Lord takes me:
Continue reading »
“Hey, it’s Mona. From church. Listen, the past couple of mornings, I’ve woken up thinking about you. And usually, when that happens, it means that I should call you. So, I just wanted to call and check on you, and tell you that I’m thinking about you, and I’m praying for you… well, not that last part because honestly, I’m not good at that part. But I AM thinking about you, so… give me a call back.”
I hooted with laughter, because I don’t know how many times I have chided myself for saying that I’m praying for someone and then forget to pray for them. Can I get a witness?!
Anyway, a week later, Mona is sitting on my couch asking me why I hold myself to such an impossibly high standard, and then judge myself so harshly when I fall short of it. Oh, did I mention Mona is a therapist? Yeah. An AWESOME one.
In answering her, I told her about my Dad’s nickname for me when I was a toddler: “showcase”. I guess I always a bit of a performer, a lover of putting on a song and dance! Whether it was singing a song, pretending to be a waiter at lunch (complete with a written menu, and a choice of red or white “wine” — soda) or regaling a dinner party of executives with a quintessential Englishman-Scotsman-Irishman joke (those always went over huge!)… I remember wanting to make people smile and laugh, and what a kick I’d get out of it.
I wondered aloud where that confidence, that joie de vivre had gone.
“It sounds like you were a precocious little girl!” Mona said, smiling.
“Yeah. I guess I was,” I said, sorrowfully.
“Well, why can’t you let that precocious little girl out? The girl that God created you to be?” she said.
In that moment, all my childhood icons flashed before my eyes: my beloved Punky, Anne of Green Gables (to this day, I love saying “kindred spirit”), Rainbow Brite, Lisa Bonet on the Cosby Show… heck, even ol’ Tori Amos has some of that energy, right?
Perhaps I’ve been so attracted to them not because I wanted so desperately to be like them but… because I AM one of them!
WOAH WOAH WOAH!!!
Cue a bit of an identity re-hashing. Wasn’t I the girl who coloured inside the lines, the linear thinker, the person who goes with the flow, who doesn’t question authority, who follows all the rules and is constantly seeking other people’s approval?
Maybe. Or maybe that’s who I’ve allowed myself to become.
I remember a very rare moment in my life when I felt God literally whispering in my ear: “I’ve packed you full of so much life! You’re my spirited little girl! I love you so much!”
Gimme a second. It always makes me cry when I think about that. God is such a sweetheart, isn’t He?!
Why cry? I get a touch sorrowful when I think about that, as if it’s too late to go back. The ship has sailed on that spirit, right? Too many years of rule-following, and approval-seeking to undo?
“Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God, everything is possible.’”
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
So, I’ve decided to re-identify myself. I may colour between the lines now, and fear colouring outside of them… but once upon a time, I joyfully eschewed the lines. I may fear what people think about my abilities (or lack thereof) now, but back then, I shared what made me happy and left it at that. I’m giving my inner Punky a hug, and asking her if she’d like to come out and play. Because I miss that vivacious multi-hued little girl, so much so that I don’t even fully remember what it’s like to be her. She’s been stuck in the corner for way too long. God planted her in me, and I’ve let the weeds of conformity and achievement strangle her.
I’m going to let my freak flag fly! Because God sewed that freak flag Himself — “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”.
What about you? Who did you relate to as a child? Are you the same person you were as a kid? Has the world strangled your freak flag?