Written By: Michelle Zauzig
Enter. The depiction of a spirited girl with a dirt dusted face and tar-black feet. Her wildly knotted hair and oversized clothing appropriately complement her careless, free spirit and love for nature. An 8-year-old rebel who threw a tantrum at the sight of a dress; and the color pink made her cringe. A child with an unexplained (yet accurate) knack for understanding people and how life worked. This is the Barefoot Ragamuffin; this is me. My hate for hairbrushes, bathtubs and shoes dubbed me this nickname by my family before I can really remember. It's these characteristics that have remained strong and almost untouched even as a young adult and it's where I lay my foundation as a human being.
The image of my 8-year-old self running barefoot carelessly through my childhood years sparked my inspiration for our blog. The raw, solid happiness and sense of self that we possess as children, but somehow lose along the way is the answer (or so I believe) to re-discovering not only who we really are, but why. How is it as 8-years-old we hold so much purpose and self-love? Even more puzzling, is how and when did we lose this self-conviction? How do we get it back?
Last winter, I hit a point in my life where I felt lost. I can't really pinpoint a day, but it was a sudden realization I wasn't quite myself. I began to question who I was, what I was doing and where I was supposed to go-- it was like someone turned the lights out. For someone who has always possessed a strong sense of self, I was baffled. Was it the winter? Was I lost because I needed sunshine? If you knew how much I love a good sunny day, you may think that would be a viable answer, but I wasn't buying it. Being the super nerd I am, I began to research possible causes (any excuse to read is good enough for me) but in the back of my overly perceptive mind, I knew I wasn't going to find the answers in a book or on a computer screen. It wasn't until a family dinner spent reminiscing that I found my answer. "Remember when we used to call you 'Ragamuffin'", my step sister laughed. We all laughed, but my mind drifted inward-- and that image again; my eight year old self running free. A tiny, scrawny body scolding a grown man for smoking around my family, then proceeding to list the health risks. Then back to reality-- a 23-year-old girl out of college with the realization the real world exists. Right then, it all clicked-- the lights came back on and my mind became still. As an incessant thinker, my mind wasn't quiet, but it was peaceful, and I treasured it like ice-cold water on a muggy day. To an inherent problem solver, this was a victory.
I'm convinced I've been around the block a couple of times in past lives-- an 'old soul', if you will. I don't know how I understand things or come up with the solutions I do-- but I'm thankful for the gift. I found so many friends, family members, acquaintances and colleagues (so much that I'm convinced this is a universal stage of life) who feel flat lined, stuck, unhappy, unmotivated and just lost. I tell them all the same thing -- picture your 8-year-old self (not specifically 8-years old, but you get the point). What's the difference between you and them? What happened to your wild dreams of being President and making the whole world a candy kingdom? What happened to REALLY believing you could, and would, accomplish these things because you were you; and you were awesome? I've found the answer to be fear and taking too seriously the rule book of social propriety .
So here it is. What I hope to bring to you on our blog. A compilation of ideas, quotes, stories and questions haphazardly thrown together on one platform to hopefully dissipate the fear to chase your dreams; an attempt at uplifting those around me and helping them realize they don't have to settle. Finding yourself again is like reaching your hand into a box, blindfolded-- you're scared of what you're going to touch but I promise you, there is no venomous raptor hiding in this box. Only your dreams, hopes and true self sit at the bottom-- you just need to let go and have enough courage to reach out and grab it. All the aspirations and dreams you've suppressed are still alive and still able to be achieved. Despite a popular misconception, happiness isn't as complicated or expensive as society makes it out to be. It's the fear of reaching for it, holding ourselves accountable, looking 'unacceptable' to the world that prevents these dreams and pure happiness from ever taking form. Let go and reap the benefits. <3