‘Only the paradox comes anywhere near to comprehending the fullness of life.” Carl Jung
What is a wild life?
We all want to belong – but we also want to express our individual selves and desperately believe in our own uniqueness – we want to be a part of a tribe, but not too much.
I always wanted to belong. But I also wanted to have a wild life. I wanted to be free. Are the two compatible? What do these words even mean?
Do you lead a wild life when you travel a lot? That’s what Instagram tells us. Is a ‘wild life’ something external? Does belonging mean ‘settling down’?
What does it mean to belong and what does it mean to be wild?
I always felt it. Inside of me. I never knew how to name it, I didn’t know what it was but I sensed I was different – not unique, now I know that lots of people in the world feel that way – but in my circle, I was different. I was alone. It felt wild. And scary. Because it meant standing alone.
Everyone I knew wanted the house, the husband, the kids, the 9-5 and the Sunday service. And everyone wanted me to want it. I just never did.
Some said it’s third culture kid syndrome, but it was always more than that, more than the box ‘immigrant’.
Some said it’s because I’m an ‘artist’ – I’m just wired differently. Again, I don’t believe that’s the only truth. Everyone is an artist because creativity is not limited to painting or making music. A lot of people just don’t know they are creative.
It was a feeling. A sensation I couldn’t shake. I didn’t fit in and I didn’t know what to do about it.
There are different layers to belonging: there’s places and there’s people. Both external experiences.
The place that makes your heart go soft and warm, the one that anchors you and nestles inside of you. Home. It’s a feeling that a place can give you. I know this all too well.
Then there’s people. The ones that unlock all parts of you. That truly see you. And let you see them. Home. It’s a feeling that people give you.
And although I found my tribe – I have incredible people in my life who mirror my soul – I still am alone sometimes. In life decisions as well as business decisions – there are parts of me people don’t understand and don’t like.
I offend people with my opinion, I am annoying, I ask too many questions, I am misunderstood because what I believe in and say is often unpopular. It’s often the shades in between, neither black or white. So many times it’s a case of ‘you’re with us or against us’ – and there I am, standing in between, thinking: ‘No, it’s not. There’s more to this.’
Not being liked doesn’t feel nice. But I have to stand with my integrity even if it means standing alone.
There’s one more layer to belonging: it’s internal. Belonging to ourselves. I felt it. I always felt that scary place inside of me, but I didn’t know it was right, I didn’t know how to accept it. Because it meant loneliness. But it also means freedom, I know that now.
You know how you try to explain something your whole life, to even understand it yourself and then someone else says it and it’s like a window has been opened and suddenly there’s light. I finished Brené Brown’s book ‘Braving the wilderness’ a few weeks ago and it switched on all the lights inside of me:
‘Even as I wrote this, I still thought of belonging as requiring something external to us. Something we are secured by, yes, showing up in a real way, but needing an experience that always involved others.
So as I dug deeper into true belonging, it became clear that it’s not something we achieve or accomplish with others, it’s something we carry in our heart.
Once we belong thoroughly to ourselves and believe thoroughly in ourselves, true belonging is ours.
What all the wilderness metaphors have in common are the notions of solitude, vulnerability and an emotional, spiritual or physical quest.
Belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone IS a wilderness – an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching.
It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. The wilderness can often feel unholy, we can’t control it, or what people think about our choice of whether to venture into the vastness or not.
But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.
The special courage it takes to experience true belonging is not just about braving the wilderness, it’s about BECOMING the wilderness.
It’s about breaking down the walls, abandoning our ideological bunkers and living from our wild heart rather than our weary hurt.’
This is it. This rings so true inside of me and it makes every fibre in me vibrate with excitement because it is truth. And truth is effervescent:
A wild life is one where you belong to yourself, when you have the courage to live in the space between your own integrity and love for others. That place is the paradox, it’s as painful as it is beautiful. It means living in a space of tension – this is the wilderness.