This is a story of unlearning and rewilding.
A story of a woman learning how to come back home to her true, authentic essence, by releasing beliefs and programming that has made her believe that she is not enough as is.
We often see others journeys of doing exceptional, inspiring things with their lives painted as this beautiful, easy go lucky adventure, but what I've personally found to be true is that taking the path of coming into ones true self and unleashing ones fullest potential is a messy, uncomfortable, and often painful journey. It isn't all sunshine, rainbows and butterflies as we may often assume it will be. To come home to your purest expression of your vibrant nature requires a sort of destruction in many ways. This is the destruction of old selves, of false truths, and a destruction of all that you may have come to find normal or comfortable. To re-wild is to come completely undone, so that you can deliberately put yourself back together in a way that allows you to choose who you are and who you want to become. This is a piece of my own story of doing just that.
I’ve spent so many (too many) years thinking I was bad or wrong for having a deeply instinctual desire to be wild, free, and living by my own set of rules. For some, they may look at who I am today and what i've created with my life and assume that everything must have been easy for me. I am here to say that is far from the truth. My journey has many chapters and stories still left untold, and this is one of them. This is a story of remembering who the fuck I am, and then choosing her in spite of all the obstacles that made me think I shouldn't.
I remember in my early teens, sneaking out of the home at all hours of the night became a very common occurrence. I wanted to be free. I wanted to explore and witness what the world looked like once everyone was asleep. I had no desire to do the things other kids were into and had no desire to be placed in a mold of normalcy. I wanted to get into trouble, to shake things up, to do what I knew I was told not to do. I began running with packs of other kids my age who were also deemed the ‘wild ones’; the bad seeds, the delinquents, the troubled kids of our community I grew up in. Call it what you want; teen angst, raging hormones from puberty, a kid rebelling against their parents....But to me, this is the earliest memory I can pull out that shows me when I first began to lose my wild alignment to my true self, my ability to follow my intuition and accept every facet of who I was. I yearned to be around a crowd that was different (wild like me) because it gave me a sense of belonging that I’d never experienced before. I didn't feel like I had to water myself down, hype myself up, or contort myself to fit into anyone else's box. When I would sneak out of the house, when I would do things I knew I shouldn't do, or when I raged against the machine in any way, I felt more myself than any other time. But, low and behold, I began to believe that this was all ‘bad’, and I was bad because of who I associated with and for how I felt called to experience my life.
This was the beginning of me losing my wild nature. It was in these moments that I began to believe that to be the rebel was to be unaccepted. To be the different was to be outcasted. To be Wild was to be bad. To go against the grain equaled punishment. I began to notice that, the more I followed my inner wild nature, the more I was punished. The more I expressed myself authentically, the less I felt like I was accepted by the people who were supposed to love me unconditionally. The more I activated my inner wild woman, the less I felt the sense of enoughness in who I was. As I gave in to the external pressures that were trying to convince me that to be wild was to be wrong, I started losing connection to self and replacing it with sacrificing self so to gain a sense of belonging and acceptance with others.
I went through a deep and ugly depression the year before I headed off to high school. Looking back now, I can see that this depression proceeded the losing of my pack of wild friends. I was banned from seeing them, and I was cut out of the pack as a result. This was the first time in my life that I experienced what true loneliness was like, and what it felt like to sacrifice your true self so to fit the mold of what those around you needed you to be. I remember this time of my life so clearly because I truly felt like I did not belong anywhere. I felt like an outcast in my own home and with my own family; The black sheep, the bad seed, the problem child. I have carried this identity with me for most of my adult life, and am still working to heal the beliefs that I am lesser than or not enough within my lineage because of who I truly am. I felt like an outcast within my community because I no longer had a pack to run with or belong to. There were so many nights where I locked myself in my bedroom and prayed that I could somehow fast forward years into the future to when I would be 18 years old, an adult, and could make my own choices that would allow me to escape what felt like a prison of an existence. I didn't feel like I had anyone to talk to about how I was feeling because I had no sense of acceptance or belonging within me. Loneliness is an interesting state to find oneself in; it becomes a cage with no key. I spent an entire year suffering in silence and wishing I could escape the dark hole I felt so lost and alone within. I almost didn’t survive this time of my life, but I am so grateful that I made it out on the other side, because it gave me the opportunity to continue journeying forward on a path that would one day bring me back home to my true, very wild self.
I spent years ingraining the beliefs I developed during the above time of my life that made me think that to be wild was to be wrong. I did everything in my power to support that belief, from sacrificing my authenticity in order to please others....masking my truth in order to fit into the box others wanted me to stay in...tucking my opinions, wants and preferences away into a hidden corner within myself so that I could be who others wanted me to be...
I learned how to trade my wild for the ability to become a chameleon, blending in to whatever environment I found myself in. I Learned how to talk to people just right so that I would say exactly what they wanted to hear. I learned how to adjust my body language to meet the energy of the room. I learned how to wear the right cloths to fit in, listen to the right music to belong, choose the straight and narrow trails to come off as normal and ‘good’. I learned how to keep quiet, water myself down, not be too over the top but not be too humble either. I truly believe that we learn these types of ways of being as a protective mechanism and nothing else. And, that's what I did daily for years: I put on my protective armor of false self, I went through the motions of life with no connection TO self, and I did what I could to make others feel comfortable with who I was, not actually knowing who I was at all anymore. But what I didn't realize then that I know now is that this type of self sacrifice is a form of slow suicide; it depletes your energy, it zaps your ambition, and it destroys your sense of self. For anyone who knows what its like to live for others more than yourself, i'm sure you can relate to what i'm saying here. But, like anything we do enough times, sacrificing self can easily become all you know how to do. Especially when you learn that you will receive more sense of belonging and acceptance in doing so. I have had to spend years working on releasing these beliefs so to build back my inner knowingness that I am enough, I am worthy, I am valued, and I am loved....even if not everyone can see that in me or give that to me. Ive had to learn how to depend less on external people and things to fulfill my desire to feel accepted and worthy of taking up space and to depend more on my own ability to activate that within myself. In doing so, I've been able to reawaken my inner truth, ignite my authentic self, and unleash my wild essence. When choosing to unlearn and rewild, we must go into it knowing that there are things we will have to let go of in order to do so. Things that we may have spent years becoming used to and comfortable with, in spite of how toxic and misaligning they are for us.
It wasn’t until I moved out on my own for the first time that I began to find a taste of what it’s like to embrace my wild again. I had just ended my first long term relationship, was 21, and was ready to RUN. I remember so clearly just wanting to get out. I wanted newness. I wanted to experience freedom. I craved to try new things and dive deeper into creating my life by my design instead of by the previously restricted design I was trying to follow. Somehow, someway, I was starting to listen to and reignite my inner wild without even realizing it at the time. Choosing to move to a new city and live by myself for the first time in my entire life was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my soul. It began to relight that wild that once was so dominant within me. I started my new journey of what I now know to be unlearning and rewilding. It was a slow process, and in truth I’m still in process now. I don’t know if we ever stop, but we must continue nonetheless to move forward day by day, choosing to deeply belong to ourselves above anyone or anything else.
The choice to live by myself was the catalyst that brought wild back into my life. I met new friends that shared in my instinctual desire to live freely. I started reawakening parts of myself that I forgot existed. I stayed up all hours of the night painting and playing music. I read books about environmental art, philosophy, and graffiti. I skipped college classes to drive around in my car for hours. I started taking trips to new places I’ve never been. Though these were the moments that wild reentered, they were also the moments that depression crept back in. As I was rediscovering my true self, I was also hiding an eating disorder and completely harmful behavior. I lied. I cheated. I hurt myself and others. I was finding myself and destroying myself all at the same time. As I was trying to get to know who I truly was again, I was also having to release people and things that wanted me to stay small and inauthentic. It was like I was stuck in a cross roads where I hadn't yet chosen: Do I keep my true self hidden, or do I choose to embrace my true self and see where that takes me? I felt the tug of war and inner battle within me, where part of me wanted to continue playing it safe, while the other part of me wanted to let go of all safety nets and find out what was in the wild unknown. But like I did before, I knew I could do again: I made it through. But this time, my breakthrough was not at the sacrifice of my true self. It was a breakthrough that also came with a choosing OF self.
It took me years to say YES to myself... Years to become ready to come back home to who I truly am....and Years of building up the courage and bravely to let my true self be seen. I am still learning how to love and accept myself the way I want others to love and accept me. But, what I have come to realize is that your environment and the packs you choose to run with play a huge role in your ability to do just that. When we are choosing to come back home to our wild essence, we have to also grieve the losses of that which no longer aligns with our authentic truth. This process cannot be glamorized, because honestly there is nothing glamorous about it. Unlearning and rewilding is the most challenging work you will ever do, but it is also the most necessary work you'll ever do.
With each battle between false self and true self I fought and overcame, I found a new layer of who I really was. With each mountain I climbed that led me back to me, I began seeing with a new set of eyes. With each challenge I came up against that caused me to have to release another person or thing that didnt align with who I was at my core, I revealed stronger sense of who I was and what I am here to do. With each failed relationship, job, career move, and action I took, a deeper drive and calling to follow the flow of what lit me up came to surface.
I am now deeply committed to feeding the wild inside of me, at whatever cost it entails, because I know that I am a strong soul that was put here on this earth to live as her fullest expression. I hope by reading this you are starting to see that you are, too! I believe that is what we are ultimately here to do: To come back home to who we truly are...To remember our instinctual calling to be free and boundlessly express ourselves. It is through releasing all that which is not us that we are able to begin to reveal who we truly are and what we are here to do.
I believe that our most important task we are given as humans is to unlearn whatever has taught us to believe that in order to belong we must sacrifice who we truly are so that we can reawaken our higher purpose and get to work in activating it.
You deserve to take up space. You are worthy of living as the fullest, most authentic expression of yourself. It doesnt matter how old you are, where you are, or who you are in this moment. At any given time, you have the ability to CHOOSE to journey into your own process of unlearning and rewilding. The world needs your wild.
I would love to hear your story with unlearning and rewilding!
Feel free to reach out to me via firstname.lastname@example.org or if you are feeling EXTRA wild, share your story online and tag me so that I can show you some support and love for reclaiming YOUR wild alignment. ( @iamnataliebrite)
In peace and abundance,