Quirky, Brave and Fully Alive
I’ve just got home from a summer holiday with my husband in NYC, and I can safely say that I have pretty much fallen in love.
I love how unbelievably alive with possibility and energy the city is.
I love the onslaught of sights and sounds and smells and people.
Most of all, I love how each person brings something unique to the multi-dimensional tapestry that is a day in the life of New York.
My husband and I encountered so much quirkiness while we were there: the taxi driver who didn’t so much preach to us as try to figure out how he felt about God and the Bible; the higgledy-piggledy makeshift beat box group rapping about Jesus outside Penn Station; the lady in the blue dress strutting down the street like a multi-million dollar catwalk deal depended on it; even the sign warning us that there might just be naked sunbathers up on the High Line.
The city and its people were alive with weird, wacky, wonderful oddness and I loved it.
It was easy to let my off-beat, spontaneous, playful self out there. I skipped when I wanted to skip. I cried my eyes out when we saw a show on Broadway (I have a deep, indescribably sweet love of musical theatre — when it’s done well), and I drank in every sight and sound, filling my well with inspiration, quirk and coffee.
I relished in the space the city provided to explore, be and express all the many aspects of me, whether that was the awestruck tourist staring up towards the sky, confused novice on the subway, or the confident badass singing along and dancing with abandon to an awesome old school a cappella male doo-wop group down at the Manhattan Staten Island ferry terminal.
The freedom to be fully alive and fully myself without needing to fit into a specific role (“Oh, I’m so outgoing,” or “I’m just such an ambivert” or even “I’m so quirky”) was utterly liberating.
Much more challenging, of course, is to show up fully alive in my everyday life, here in the quiet English village where I’ve lived for the last five years.
We Brits are known for being eccentric, and personally I think that all people are weird when you look closely enough, but nevertheless there is an uptightness to living in a conservative village that sometimes makes me stick out like a sore thumb here.
That’s why I make a sincere effort to consciously, consistently remind myself that I do not have to live by the same societal rules as everyone else. It’s okay to be unique. It’s okay not to fully belong.
Back when I was a little girl, I wanted to fit in almost more than anything else. I grew up feeling so different from other people (sometimes even wondering whether I was an alien, or a freak, or convinced that I must have been adopted), and used to spend a lot of time trying to blend in.
But as much as I was desperate to belong to certain crowds (like those effortlessly cool kids on the playground, or when I was older, those girls who go to nightclubs and manage to look utterly immaculate all night long. How do they do that?), what I really wanted — and still want — is to feel good about being me.
Underneath my desire to belong is a deeper hunger, a desire to explore one juicy question:
What does it take to be fully, completely ALIVE?
I want to know what it’s like to live without holding back. I want to laugh as loudly as I want to, without worrying about whether I’m annoying anyone else or am being judged by them. I want to dance like no one is watching and like all the world’s a stage.
For most of my adult life, that’s what I’ve been leaning into. Exploring my slightly eccentric Elloaness, discovering where my edges are and daring to lean just beyond that edge, again and again and again.
For me, that means daring to explore and express all of these strange and wonderful parts of myself. And every now and again, a real or metaphorical New York City will come along, a place, community or experience that invites me to step fully into it and let all my quirkiness hang out.
But the rest of the time, I dare myself to get brave and be the one who leads the way, whizzing down a supermarket aisle on my trolley while exclaiming, “Wheeee!”, or doing a little dance in the street, or smiling really big at a stranger, or screaming “YESSSS!” out of my car window while driving, or doing a cartwheel while walking my dog.
I make these tiny choices and keep doing one brave thing after another because these choices brighten my mood and elevate my energy.
I also live like this because I hope that my free-spiritedness might just inspire you to be a little bolder or weirder or expressive or spontaneous, a little less self-conscious, daring to lean into joy just a little bit more — even if everyone around you is sitting blankly in the beige.
I do it because I think that really, what we’re all yearning for is Real Life. It can be scary to open up to it, but when you zoom out and really ponder what really matters, what’s scarier than any potential judgement from a random stranger is the possibility of a life half lived.
So I’m curious… what makes you feel fully alive? What would your one brave step be, today? And are you willing to take that leap with me?
Some of us will be watching you; some of us won’t. But your own beating heart will be the one who thanks you the most when you take a deep breath, embrace your quirk, throw your arms wide open and shout a wild, unencumbered “YESSSSSSSS!” to your life.
And if all else fails, hop on a plane to New York. It will be there, ready to greet your slightly wacky, quirky self with wide open arms.
Elloa Atkinson from elloaatkinson.com is a life-changing coach, an inspiring speaker and a writer whose work has been featured on both the Huffington Post and the Good Men Project.
Elloa writes, speaks and teaches about spirituality and waking up, conscious relationships, and becoming reunited with your whole Self. She believes that until you reclaim the parts of yourself that you discarded long ago, you will not feel whole — even though you are.
A long-term student and teacher of A Course in Miracles, Elloa founded and hosts the Academy of Miracles Podcast and Fearless Expression challenges.
Elloa lives in West Sussex in the UK with her husband Nige and their Westie, Molly Miracle. She adores dancing, living life wide open and travel.
The Quirk Invasion 7 Day Challenge
Join us for the 7 day Quirk Invasion to explore and celebrate being quirky!
Day 4 :: Bravery
~> If you got a permission slip to be quirky without apology, what would it allow you to do?
Respond and share your thoughts below or via social media!
So we can find you, add the tags: #quirkinvasion and @livingquirky!
Not sure what this challenge is all about? Click HERE for more details!