If you have ever lost your passion—really, lost a part of yourself—you are not alone.
In She Used to be Mine, the central character in the musical Waitress by Sara Bareilles, sings:
“It's not simple to say… that most days I don't recognize me.
That these shoes and this apron, that place and its patrons,
Have taken more than I gave them.
It's not easy to know, I'm not anything like I used be.”
I listened to this song obsessively when I first discovered it—and couldn’t listen without crying.
She Used to be Mine rang so true for the woman I was, devastated by a difficult childhood, emotionally abusive relationships, and a long struggle with depression, that as I neared the end of my first marriage—teetering on the brink of my greatest transformation yet—I felt hollowed out. I didn’t recognize the woman I had become.
Where was the woman who fiercely led campus protests and prickly conversations? Who rented her first apartment in Paris? Who defied family and cultural expectations to choose gender studies over pre-med, to become a writer over a doctor, and to leave corporate to become a professional bellydancer? My life has been a testament to the power of following my passion—and I too, have utterly lost it at times.
A couple years ago, I was invited to speak on passion at a daylong conference for women just outside Chicago. As I surveyed the ladies in the audience around what message would be most impactful for them to hear, I was surprised and not surprised to hear the same refrain repeated from all corners of the room:
“Passion? I don’t have the time or energy to figure out what my passion is, let alone live it. I’ve lost it...” Some weren’t sure whether they could be passionate about anything. Many described it as something that they’d put on hold, taking a backseat to day-to-day responsibilities and obligations.
I didn’t blame them. In fact, as women, one of our brilliances is our versatile adaptability. Tell us what we need to do, who we need to become, to survive, succeed, protect or provide for our families, and we will do it. It’s part of why we’ve been so acrobatically flexible, through thousands of years of patriarchal mindset.
Leave our femininity at the door in corporate—or as my friend Ginny, an IT executive described it, “strap one on?” Check.
Tolerate gender discrimination and a campus tendency to sweep harassment and rape under the rug, to attend a prestigious, formerly all-male college? Check.
Conform to a society that still blames the victim in cases of rape and sexual exploitation? Check.
I have done all of the above and more. Can you relate?
One of my clients, a pioneer in her industry, regularly had to line up with the handful of saleswomen in her male-dominated company, to undergo scrutiny of their dress and carriage.
Another client had never revealed her rape at 14, by the boy she had—until that trespass—been crushing on, until she whispered her secret to me after class one day.
Girls’ bodies and dress spawn detailed high school dress codes, slut shaming and bullying—and yet little guidance is given as we transition into womanhood on how to claim our sensual, sexual—and by extension, passionate—selves, without coating the whole affair in shame, secrecy and control.
Is it any wonder that we shut parts of ourselves down? Shelf this desire. Store that passion. Box up that longheld dream… The effects ripple far outside sexual passion to dim the light in all areas of women’s lives.
A woman in full ownership of her passion is on fire, unstoppable. Irresistibly powerful.
Tonight (7/6/17), my dear friend Kim Fuller of Fuller Life Concepts hosts me online, in an intimate conversation on passion, why it is an indelible tool in our feminine superpower toolbox, and how to get your mojo back. (Click here at at 8 pm Central / 6 pm Pacific to join us). Kim is hosting me for The Passion Cure LIVE later this month in Lakewood, California; tonight’s online event is a prequel.
With love and hugs,
p.s. You can check out the full song and lyrics to She Used to Be Mine by Sara Bareilles here: https://youtu.be/DToejUka-XU
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