I have followed you for a very long time and I really adore you. I love how candid you are. You are so open and honest about so many subjects that are hard to talk about.
I don’t understand why you can’t just do those things and not feel guilty about it. We only have one life to live. I do a lot of things that I probably shouldn’t do like eat lots of bad food, don’t exercise as much as I’d like, spend a lot of time on Instagram but I’m okay with it. Life is crazy but I think you should just let life happen!
This is an interesting question. Why do we do the things that we do?
You say you see me as a free spirit, which to me is one of the highest compliments.
But what does being a free spirit mean?
To me, it is not to adhere to any pre-formulated thinking.
To not always go by society’s standards.
It is also to be your own person, to follow your heart.
And that is the most difficult thing in the world, because all of us are so conditioned, and very often, we don’t even see it.
I know I am.
I am probably conditioned less and less, which is the magic of maturing, but I am. To me, life is about peeling the layers. First comes the conditioning from your parents. Then from the conditioning from your peers. Then the one from society.
To free myself from my family’s view on life, I had to lose them for a while. They didn’t understand me, they where disappointed in me, mad at me. I was mad at them too. It was so painful, yet years later so rewarding. We don’t think the same. It’s so enriching for everyone.
Had I stayed put, comfortable, in their vision of life, I wouldn’t be talking to you today. Maybe I would have found a way to combine everybody’s desires for me, but I doubt it. I’d probably be doing a job I’d hate – and I’d be pretty depressed, too.
I had to free myself from my peers a few times. It is so painful. Friends love you, yet sometimes their love can make you smaller. I used to be friends with a group of artists. I loved them, was inspired by them. But their vision of an artist’s life was one of very exclusive, some could say snobbish, aspirations. One that keeps you as an artist creating for other artists – the public being considered too vulgar.
Yet I wanted to include everyone. I wanted to be in the world. I used a medium, the Internet, that was looked at as poor and ugly, as compared to pure artistic endeavors. I could have stayed with them and would probably have found my way, again, trying to consent to everyone – but I made the choice to leave. I gradually lost all my friends. “You’ve changed” they said. It hurt. But they were right : I had.
Following your own path is much more heroic than any feel-good quote wants to make you believe…
But, Allison, the most complicated, concealed, convoluted layer is the one of society’s conditioning. It hides in places we couldn’t imagine, sometimes right before our eyes, and we don’t see it.
Believe it or not, I was exactly like you before. I was the French girl, the rebel.
I used to be a real rebel, doing all the things society tells us not to do. Who cares?! I wanted to be free. And a rebel doesn’t go on a fucking diet, does she? She doesn’t detox. She smokes, takes drugs, dances all night, she has fun!!! She’s Kate Moss!!!!!
We have only one life, don’t we?
Slowly as I peeled the layers, and I got in touch with my soul and my body, I realized that, as boring as it appears, self-care goes a long way.
And I also realized that being “a rebel” is in many ways just as much of a conditioning as being a perfect health nut or a straight A student. Just look at the Harley Davidson “rebels”’ – there is sometimes nothing more conforming than free-thinkers.
One look, one way of thinking, one way to see life.
Being 100% sure your way of life is “the right way of life” often comes with having an opinion on others. On that too, I’m not as free of a thinker as you’d think I am. I have an opinion on everything, and on everyone. That crazy girl who doesn’t eat anything at lunch while I scoff down bread and butter. That person who’s still out, drunk at five in the morning. That dude who spends hours at the gym.
But as I peel the layers of my self, my opinions are softening, they’re becoming something more like curiosity. I try to understand where the person comes from, what brought them there. I try to see what they could teach me. Maybe something I wouldn’t want to use today, but maybe one day, who knows?
See, the more I am myself, the more I appreciate others and the choices they make for themselves.
It is probably because when we follow our hearts and disappoint people, we understand how hard it feels to lose someone’s appreciation.
Often, we also understand that judgment comes from projections and frustrations.
And more than often, we would rather everyone wan the same thing as we do – because it comforts us in our life choices.
But there is not only one way to lead an interesting life. And the ONLY right way is the one that feels right to our heart.
To me, that’s the magic of existence.
The more moving, always evolving, the more differences, the more points of views, the more voices, the more “things we don’t understand”, the more experiences, then the more bright, fascinating and beautiful life becomes. The more we allow ourselves to be one thing one day and evolve into something different the next, the more we allow life to vibrate inside us.
That’s why I want to tell you: YES, have fun. Spend as much time as you want on Instagram, don’t detox from it if you don’t feel like it. Don’t detox from anything. Be yourself. As you say so well, let life happen.
Or, in other words let *what your vision of what life is* to happen.
And don’t be disappointed in people because they’ve changed or because they don’t do or think like you. Value and learn from their experience – the same way you value and learn from your personal experience and let it change you.
Maybe after months of spending as much time on Instagram as you want, you’ll email me and tell me: I stopped it completely, it was too much!!! Or maybe you’ll have become a world-famous influencer.
Who knows? I know I don’t. In the meantime, do as you heart pleases, and trust me. Even if we’re not in the same place, we can both be, or at least try to be – happy, wild, and free spirits.
Welcome to “Dear Garance…” where Garance will answer reader questions in her monthly newsletter! If you have a question you’d like Garance to answer, please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage questions of all types: love, relationships, family, personal dilemmas, the meaning of life, and of course, career.