To belong ... or forge one's own way? That IS the question, isn't it?
As I watch my girl navigate the choppy waters of fourth grade social cliques, I realize I haven't progressed much myself in terms of understanding when the desire to belong may come at too high a price. Always lurking underneath my surface is a fear of losing my self in the gambit to be a part of something larger than my tribe of one.
So too for my dragon girl, the desire to be a part of a group often clashes with a strongly developed sense of who she is and what she believes in. We are moving carefully through the minefield of what to share and what to keep to ourselves. I am trying to teach her that people have to earn the right to be trusted with her innermost truths. Her relationship with dragons (and fairies and gnomes) is one such tender area deserving of special privilege.
For me the slippery slope in belonging is too easily I lose sight of my direction and I begin to navigate by a set of values that are not my own. Or like my experience singing in a choir, surrounded by other voices I lose my voice and fall into tune with whoever sings the strongest.
Perhaps belonging isn't really the issue? Perhaps what challenges me (and my independent girl) is the act of holding firm (and confident) to the differences that make us unique while seeking common ground with others? Not to downplay the pressure to conform which is at the heart of my girl's struggles, but in my case no one is pushing me to abandon my path for theirs. Rather, I too easily fall into doubting myself. It may be a matter of believing another's way would be easier, mapped out and certain whereas I am totally on my own over here in the dark unknown.
This has been quite an a-ha for me. It's also dawning on me that perhaps the bulk of rigid constraints I find myself thrashing against are, more often than not, self inflicted and maintained.
Yeah. Wow. Just beginning to glimpse the full expanse of those two perspectives and the freedom they reveal.
Meanwhile, I admit feeling woefully inadequate to translate any of this into something useful for a fourth grader. The best I can hope to do is to help my girl strengthen her relationship with spirit and source which - like her - is still developing, still forming. To nurture the core of who she is, modeling a reverence and valuing of her uniqueness while also emphasizing being a part of some larger group does not require her to abandon her way of moving through life. As I write this, I realize I am still speaking to myself here.
So, maybe I should take a page from Cowgirl's playbook and plug in my iPod and sing at the top of my lungs (flat and off key of course!) because it releases what pounds at the boundaries of my heart. Walking side by side with my girl, singing our own songs, together but true to the call of our wild, dragon selves. Let that be my practice.
Perhaps my biggest a-ha is to acknowledge I don't need to have all the answers (for her or for myself) but that staying true to oneself is to allow oneself to discover her own way ... and to get lost once in awhile because then we discover we have the ability to make our way back again. and again.