A Barefoot Hippie Emerges
"Why are you so afraid of people seeing the real you?"
Like a broken record the words have been stuck in my head for weeks ever since my friend asked me the question. Why did it make me so restless?
Maybe because she hit the nail on the head - I have been hiding my true self for years.
This past weekend I spent the day in Woodstock, surrounded by rescued farm animals and free spirits. My friend and I had lunch at The Garden Cafe in town and as we were eating there was a community drum circle happening outside the restaurant. I found myself gazing out the window at them, feeling the energy of the music, and was particularly drawn to a woman dancing in the center of the circle.
She was barefoot and had long flowy hair, simple clothes. Her eyes were closed and she was moving to the rhythm of the drums, her whole body engaged in the dance. She looked so free.
In that moment I realized how badly I wanted to be her. She was a mirror for my soul and suddenly it became clear how deeply I've hidden my true self. "Why are you so afraid of people seeing the real you?"
We left the restaurant and watched the drum circle for a few minutes. The energy from the music was intoxicating. Soon I couldn't stop myself from dancing, I needed to sway. A man motioned for us to join in the circle, pointing to available drums. I wanted desperately to jump in, I could feel my soul tugging at my shirt saying, "pleeeeaasse?", but I knew we had a long drive home, so we kept walking.
This was only my second visit to Woodstock, but something about the town felt familiar. Free spirited people dressed in flowy clothing, buying crystals and smiling at you on the street with genuine love. Perhaps these people were the tribe I've been searching for my whole life.
For most of my life I have struggled to fit in and make friends. Some people make life-long friendships in college, I made only one. Some people develop lots of friendships at their work, but after 7 years I had very few. When I finally left my corporate life behind last year, I felt a strong desire to leave behind the mask I had been wearing too.
For a long time I was quite attached to this mask, after all I had carefully designed it, like a perfectly painted eggshell. Bright blonde hair, tall heels, painted nails, painted lips, bold fashion. It certainly made for a pretty facade, but that was never the true Alicia. That was a version of myself that I carefully presented because it was the most easily accepted by society.
Wearing this mask made it easier to make friends, have boyfriends and have a fancy job. But just like a pretty easter egg, I was empty on the inside, not fulfilled by this life in any way. How could such a pretty girl with a fancy corporate career be so unhappy?
I suddenly didn't recognize the girl I saw in the mirror. How did I get so far gone? Why did I have the urge to sell everything in my closet, darken my hair, and live in yoga pants for the rest of my life on an ashram?
From a very young age I've wanted to live on the prairie. Running through tall grass fields, barefoot, in a simple dress with the sun on my face...living off the land, a simple life - I had always dreamed of that time period. I gravitated towards books that painted the life that my soul secretly craved.
Here I was in Woodstock, turning 31, and having a mid-life crisis. Why am I so afraid for them to see the real me?
Risk of not being accepted. Men telling me that my hair was "just so pretty when it was blonde." Being the only vegan at every single social gathering. Being labelled weird. Risk of losing friends.
So many people change who they are to fit in, and I was guilty of this for many years. I wanted to be accepted, I wanted to be less "different", I wanted to be cool.
The thing is, I am not here to blend in. I never was, and it has taken me 31 years to finally start getting comfortable in my own skin. Self-discovery is one crazy-ass ride.
So here I am, Alicia Uhl in all her glory.
I am a crunchy granola hippie who eats plants, hugs chickens, burns incense and chants sanskrit. I wash my face with chickpea flour, talk to cats and laugh...loudly. I pick dandelion flowers in the bank parking lot, meditate with crystals, clear my chakras and talk to angels.
I love my natural hair color and have traded my bath products and perfume for essential oils and hand-made soap. I drum and dance under the full moon, have psychic dreams, believe in aliens and have quite a knack for manifesting cool shit.
This is ME, allow me to introduce myself.