Four Steps to Becoming a Change-Making Animal

Grab a piece of scrap paper and a pen.

On the left-hand-side of your paper draw a doodle of who you are right now in this moment, in your context, in your comfort zone. Try not to think. Just doodle.

On the right-hand-side of your paper draw a doodle of who you were born to be. Strip away all the expectations and all the armor. What do you look like? What does your spark look like?

In between these two images draw the obstacles, the landscape, and the demons (fear, self-doubt, insecurity, perfectionism and shame) that keep you cloistered in your comfort zone.

Mine is above (full size image here).

For most of us, I think it is fair to say that we are divided individuals. “Who we are” and “who we are meant to be” do not match.

That is not how it is supposed to be.

We need some Rewilding.

Rewilding is a process of remembering the audacity of our childhood.

We used to run, laugh, play, paint, sing, dance, rhyme, skip, jump, dance, and doodle. We used to test, challenge, poke, and make things. We made art. We made music. We made forts. We made imaginary worlds. We used to explore. Get lost in the woods. And, investigate places our parents told us not to go. Dark places piqued our interests. If one of our friends asked “What is it?” we would answer “I don’t know. Hit it with a rock!”We were naturally destructive because we were naturally curious. We threw things up in the air just to see them land. “No.” “Why?” and “You’re not the boss of me.” were our reflexive responses to people in position of authority.

Rewilidng is a process of recognizing the system of expectations in which we are submerged.

From day one, well-meaning people in our lives combed our hair, brushed our teeth, scrubbed our faces, corrected our posture, and gave us table manners. They taught us to wear matching socks. And, they told us to respect adults, shake their hands, and say “yes, Sir” and “yes, Ma’am.”  They made sure we were presentable in public. And, when it was time for us to go to school, we were handed over to an educational system that was designed to smother our individuality, erase our idiosyncrasies, and make us conform to the dominant culture. This system instructed us on issues of race, faith, class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and nationality. We did not arrive at our understanding of these things on our own. And, moving forward, we are under no obligation to honor the system’s understanding of these things.

Rewilding is a process of reigniting our agency.

We are human beings. We were born to dream. We were born to disrupt. We were born to create. Some of us have walked on the moon. Some of us have dismantled systems of oppression from inside a jail cell. And, some of us have come to realize that our background, path, history, family, community, crazy relatives…the whole tangled mess of your upbringing was a gift. The love we received and the hurt we suffered. The care we were given and the pain we endured. The peace we enjoyed and the volatility we survived. No matter how easy or how hard, all of our experiences make us who we are. They give us stories, ideas, angles, perspectives, and interpretations that all our own. And, once your own it (all of it), it deepens your humanity and gives you a voice that is yours and yours alone. No one can create what you are going to create because no one is you. And, we cannot wait to see what you choose to create.

Rewilding is a process of taking responsibility for our own freedom.

I have a secret to tell you. The cage you are pacing in has no bars. You have been free to leave all the time. So, now that you know, there is no one else to blame for your captivity. Not your parents. Not your friends. Not your background. Not your upbringing. Not you lack of pedigree. Not your current predicament.

You own your servitude.

So, act on your instincts!

Shed your submissiveness.

Ditch your domestication.

Stop waiting for permission.

Stop trying to please those in power.

Bite the hand that feeds you.

You say you don’t have a seat at the table? Good. Go build your own.

Start feeding yourself.

And, when you see your brothers and sisters making a run for it, don’t try to hold them back. Don’t sow seeds of doubt. That is the fear of your own freedom talking and acting out.

Applaud them. Cheer them on. Better yet join them!

Run alongside of them. Skip. Jump. Dance. Sing. Head for the woods, rivers, ponds and prairies.

The wilderness is calling you.

We are calling you.

Shawn Humphrey, the Blue Collar Professor (www.shawnhumphrey.com)

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