I was thinking the other day, during a riverside run about the figures in my life who inspire me. Inspire... Such a lofty and vague word. What does it mean if someone inspires you? Of course it means you admire them… but there is something else to the term. I started thinking about the IN at the beginning of the word. My admiration for these people is really an INtrinsic projection. The inspirational people in my life, somehow make me excited to be me. They connect to aspects of myself that I already have or want to cultivate. Through defining what I find inspiring about others, I can connect with and define my own positive attributes or those that I want to develop. Here are a few examples:
It may be cliche to mention the people responsible for my existence, but hear me out, my parents are bad asses! They provided me with a growing up roadmap for my childhood and adolescence, but then stopped being parents and just became outstanding friends. They’re not afraid to learn and grow, which has encouraged me to live in the same open-hearted space. I’ve watched them both transition out of a religious belief system that wasn’t serving them. They stepped away from all the philosophies they were raised with, risking relationships and identity. They did this TOGETHER and at the same time! They inspire me to create a life of fulfillment and alignment, no matter the risk.
Florence is the lead singer of the band Florence and the Machine, whose music has been my soundtrack for the past 10 years. Her voice is haunting, her words are powerful and her songs never fail to centre me. She’s romantic, whimsical and slightly strange. Her lyrics are poetic, dark, sad, but hopeful- A form of catharsis. She’s helped me give myself my own permission to have demons, to be quirky and sensitive, to dance around my apartment, to wear flower crowns, to be overwhelmed by the beauty and pain of existing. She spins her life into poetry and prose. She inspires me to not tone down the intensity or expression of my experiences.
Stacey was my first ever boss at my first ever afterschool job. She owned a cute little framing and gift shop in the small town I grew up in. I knew I had been hired at the right place when on the first day, she handed me her employee expectations which included a classy dress code and the rule to “act and speak like a lady”. Stacey ran her business the way she lived her life: with grace and style. She taught me the foundations of charm and charisma. She was a kind hearted and generous friend and an employer with a clear vision of what she wanted. She also had a wicked shoe collection. She wore her high heels as she created art for her customers, when she went to the grocery store, as she raised her twins… she kept poise and grace even despite the exhaustion of metastasizing cancer. Even though she’s gone now, she still inspires me to live an elegant and relentlessly positive life, no matter the circumstances.
Alice in Wonderland
The story of Alice in Wonderland used to scare me. The poor girl falls down a hole in the ground and finds herself lost in a completely bizarre world, where a crazy queen wants to behead her. The story always seemed like a whole lot of loneliness and anxiety to me. But emerging adulthood has shown me that change and growing up can be just that- a whole lot of loneliness and anxiety!! What did Alice do? She had a good cry and acknowledged how lost and alone she felt, but then she picked herself up and made the best of it. She chose to look at her unfamiliar surroundings as a challenge rather than a hardship. She learned and she grew (to various sizes) and ultimately conquered! I love Alice so much that I have her tattooed on my right forearm. She inspires me to live a life of adventure and take on whatever cards life throws at me with bravery.
Who inspires you and what is it about them that you admire? What do you see in them that is a reflection of the good in you? What can you learn about yourself and what you value through who you look up to? Make a list and let those people know!