This is my 4-year-old daughter, Mia Belle. I couldn’t help but take her photo before she headed to soccer practice earlier this week, mostly to capture the unique outfit she had carefully curated just for the occasion.
If you know me in real life, then most likely you’ve heard the dramatic tales of our daily battles to get dressed and ready for school each morning. To put it lightly, Mia Belle is…selective when it comes to her clothes.
She wakes up with a strong opinion about what to wear that day, completely disregarding whether or not it is appropriate for the weather or situation (e.g. the sparkly bracelet, long plastic beaded earrings, and Superman headband she’s wearing in the pre-soccer photo).
I used to let her stubbornness get to me, and our morning struggle put me in a funk nearly every day. But recently I decided to loosen my grip, because I finally saw what was really happening here. She wasn’t purposely trying to antagonize me; she simply wanted to express herself.
My daughter is completely unapologetic about being herself, and instead of worrying about standing out, she embraces it. As someone who has for the most part followed all the rules and tried not to ruffle any feathers, I have a lot to learn from her.
Yesterday during a meeting with a friend who is helping edit the book I’m writing, I opened up to her about my biggest fear: provoking other music therapists who don’t agree with my approach and opinions. The topic of making money is already a sensitive one, especially within our field, and I’m going way outside of the traditional music therapy “box” in my book.
Although she validated my fear and the fact that it takes a lot of courage to put oneself out there in written form, she also emphasized that there will always be people with opposing viewpoints. Her words “don’t write with your critics in mind” resonated with me in more ways than one.
I have a living, breathing reminder in my house to be unapologetic about my opinions, choices, fashion sense — the way I live my life in general. Rather than try to stifle her creative expression the way I was doing before (insert monkey-covering-its-face emoji here), I’m going to take more cues from her.
As you may recall, I’ve dubbed this month to be Self-Care September, and I’m adding a new item to my list of self-care practices: be unapologetically myself in as many ways as possible. This will be especially important as I finish writing my book over the next few weeks.
In order to keep myself accountable and receive additional guidance, I’m taking part in The 5-Day Self-Care Challenge led by fellow music therapist and self-care expert Ami Kunimura, which starts this Sunday. If you haven’t gotten in on it yet, you can sign up here. It’s completely free, and will help you to implement sustainable self-care practices so you can feel more effective and fulfilled at work and at home.
I’m curious: what are some areas of your life in which you express yourself unapologetically, and where are you holding back? Let’s continue this conversation in the comments or via email.