Self expression…ahh the freedom, possibility and beauty. There are so many ways to express yourself, and they vary from being among company to being in solitude. As a believer in collective consciousness, individuality is fascinating to me. Because people are attracted to different colors, styles, genres, and other people, we see how the human experience is expressed in mostly unique forms.
Self-expression may be in the things we do (paint, sing, run), what we wear, and what or how we say something. Some of us do cartwheels on the beach while the rest of us feel most like ourselves quietly sipping coffee. All of these versions create and reflect personality, culture, and even zodiac signs.
What does your living space look like? Who are the people around you? Personally, my self-expression feels most true and expansive when I’m creating a ceremony or while traveling. Sure, there’s the idea that when you’re somewhere new you can reinvent yourself or be whoever you want, but I feel a particular magical glow that goes beyond that. It’s sort of like happiness mixed with empowerment, a hearty dash of gratitude, and a little bit of the feeling of being at the right place at the right time.
Similarly, most of my clothes are very representative of my mood down to the color I choose to wear each day. Even my most insecure days in middle school and early high school had me in outfits that boosted my self-esteem and expressed what I didn’t say. There’s a certain creative element involved that provides a satisfying release.
The best way I can describe the “rightness” feeling is through the difference between letting go and a stifled feeling. I think of someone who is dancing in a chair. They’re not in their full expression because of conflict and holding back. They want to get up to move but would also rather not be in the spotlight. Maybe dancing won’t be their favorite mode of expression. Maybe it feels better in privacy, or maybe some progress will take them there…out of their chair.
When discussing this topic with a friend, I was reminded of how self-expression is not limited to what you like and what feels right, but it leaks from body language and from some of the most mundane tasks. How you embody something is also an expression of you. For example, how you hold a pencil or the way you sweep the floor are expressions.
What does the food you cook taste like? My dad’s tomato sauce is very different from my Nana’s. What a fun way to know someone—through their cooking! There’s a (fictional) book about a girl who can taste the feelings of the person who cooked the food she ate. If I go to someone’s house and they toast a pop-tart for me, I swear it’s somehow always going to be different from the pop-tart I toast for myself. The food doesn’t even have to be cooked, yet it’s still a representation of the person and the energy they put into it.
While you reflect on what gives you your “right” feeling, how you feel most accurately expressed, and how the every day tasks you do also portray who you are by the way you approach them, don’t forget to exercise some tolerance and honor others’ expressions! Some of us are better able to express ourselves either because we feel more comfortable doing so or because we are more socially accepted for it than others. Unfortunately, many of us rely on feedback and acceptance from others about our expression.
There has to be a certain amount of confidence to really open ourselves to the world. I can’t say that I have any real secrets for obtaining confidence. I will say that once I determined what I like and what brings me joy (from blue boots to Pink Floyd and homemade Mexican food), I felt better. Sometimes those things develop into passions and desires that help distinguish what it is you want from life. Those feel-good things and motives start to over-power some of the negative thoughts or sensitivities about how others see you. As soon as I began to more frequently engage with what makes me excited, I felt more value in life and in my life. Maybe that makes a kind of confidence?
I’ll end with a little story. To me, it’s a fantastic demonstration of self-expression. When I first moved to London back in 2016, each day I walked through a neighborhood with a house that really stuck out. At one point I stopped to look at it, and a local told me the story behind it. Clearly, the resident had decided to paint bright red stripes vertically along the face of her house. Apparently the original renovations she wanted weren’t allowed, so stripes expressed her response. Even though the house radically contrasted the aesthetic of the neighborhood and upset the neighbors, the resident fought the system and got to keep her stripes.
Self-expression is one of the many gifts in life, so go shine bright! Embody and emulate what feels most right to you. If you like this page, please share it!