There came a time when I knew some things needed to change and they needed to change fast.
I was 21 and in my last year of college. I was in a serious commitment both with someone and with all the things I wanted to accomplish in my life. I was on the fast track to “success.” I could see it right in front of me. Sounds great, right? Except, it didn’t feel so great. The “success” felt hollow.
The next moves I made would determine the trajectory of my life. It was almost like I could see my life unfolding right before my eyes if I decided to take one path and not the other. This doesn’t mean it would have happened exactly that way, but the very thought of it unfolding in such a way scared me.
The months after those realizations, I was face to face with the wildness inside me. The Wild Woman, as she is called. Now, let me explain a little before I get any further in this story. The Wild Woman has been interpreted in very different ways. For me, she is the being within that emerges when I let go of all my anxieties and fears. She surfaces when my creativity and inspiration are in full swing. She allows me to find the courage to listen to my heart. The wild woman lets go of all inhibitions and embraces who she is despite external pressures.
Have you ever felt some sort of clarity about something in your life? Has an idea suddenly come to you at a time when you are completely relaxed and stress-free? Have you felt the courage to do something wild that is perceived as out of the ordinary? That thing doesn’t entirely make sense and often doesn’t have a visible end goal. It might be hard to explain, but you know it will gift you with something that will contribute to your growth in more ways than none. That is your Wild Woman showing herself.
My Wild Woman showed herself when I was backpacking throughout Southeast Asia after graduation. She showed herself again in the mountains of Vietnam as I journeyed through the wilderness on a motorbike and then again as I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. What was even more amazing were the moments between those adventures. She began showing herself more often as I started to believe in that part of me. She slowly began to show herself every day as I began acting on the voice she carried inside of me.
There were many moments I didn’t listen. It sent me into chaos and despair. I often felt lost because I had no idea where to go. I couldn’t find the courage to listen to her. I was stagnant.
I eventually got out of the funk, but I realized how important it was to listen to that voice. I’m still finding the courage to listen to her and realize that she exists within each moment. She was there long before I knew who she was. Believe it or not, I was able to see my wildness in home videos after I analyzed my behavior as a toddler and child. I wasn’t yet conditioned to do or be anything. Those days, I wasn’t questioning my worth, being hard on myself, or worried about what others were going to say. I was completely myself.
[Read Related: Travel With Family: A Wise Friend’s Advice to a Desi Nomad]
You must be at the point where you are wondering how my story ends. You also must be wondering how this applies to you.
First, I realized there will be no end to this in my life. I will constantly need to keep listening to that Wild Woman part of me. To do that, I follow different practices in my life. I meditate and do yoga in the mornings, often in nature. I try to spend at least a half an hour outside before I start my day, so I connect to the beauty around me. I also write a journal because it provides me with an outlet to organize what is happening inside of me. These practices keep me in check, and they remind me to stay present throughout the day.
I quickly realized when I begin to suppress those parts of me that I call the Wild Woman or the real parts, I began to lose parts of myself. My body physically reacts. When this happens, I am struck by tiredness and can even see it when I look at myself in the mirror. It isn’t normal to wake up depleted! Each time this happens, I quickly realize that something needs to change. It is often that Wild Woman trying to tell me something needs to change.
It takes that bit of courage to listen to that voice that is living and breathing inside. There is wisdom within you and chances are it is waiting to come out. Societal expectations and wounds can sometimes take you from the life you want to live. It might affect you mentally or physically, but know when the Wild Woman is calling to you in some shape or form, it is time to listen to her.
Rina Patel is a 2015 graduate of Drexel University where she studied Marketing and Legal Studies with a minor in Public Health and International Studies. She is the founder of a non-profit organization, Aahana, which serves as a catalyst for youth social activists working in the United States and Gujarat, India. She has spent the past year backpacking and traveling throughout Southeast Asia, exploring the depths of her definition of service as she continues learning about the world of international development. She is currently exploring the world of creativity and social impact through her writing and business strategy work with startups, non-profits, and artists. To read more about Rina’s travels, work, and story check out her website www.rinagpatel.com.