Jenny Lawson of The Bloggess fame is fast becoming an inspiration of mine; she lives life with pain, anxiety, and her own set of demons, but she strives to be fiercely happy in spite of all these things. She is fearless in her search for joy, laughter, and encouraging others in the process to find their own source of fierce happiness.
I hope we all have a Jenny Lawson in our lives because this shit is just funny, y’all.
She wrote once about this red dress her artistically talented friend made and how much she wanted it, but she realized that it was not sensible. It’s impractical. It’s even ‘inappropriate for a woman her age.’ She didn’t have any shoes to wear with it, but she really wanted it.
“I want, just once, to wear a bright red, strapless ball gown with no apologies. I want to be shocking, and vivid and wear a dress as intensely amazing as the person I so want to be. And the more I thought about it the more I realized how often we deny ourselves that red dress and all the other capricious, ridiculous, overindulgent and silly things that we desperately want but never let ourselves have because they are simply ‘not sensible.’ Things like flying lessons, and ballet shoes, and breaking into spontaneous song, and building a train set, and crawling onto the roof just to see the stars better. Things like cartwheels and learning how to box and painting encouraging words on your body to remind yourself that you’re worth it…. So today, think about what it is you need and were too embarrassed to ask for. And then go fucking do it. Wear a ball gown to the grocery store. Invite the neighbors to have a picnic on the front lawn. Get that novel out of your sock drawer and publish it yourself. Stand on a bus stop bench and belt out a song for the waiting strangers. Find a playground swing and remember how it felt to fly. Find your red dress. And wear the hell out of it.”
Jenny invites all of us into a sense of play and wonderment, without shame or judgment, that most of us lose at some point after childhood. Some of us never had this space in our lives to begin with. So I began to ask myself to find my red dress…
I thought, at first, that it was a literal red dress because I, too, have never owned a red dress. I have no occasion for a red dress, it would be impractical to buy a dress with no occasion while in grad school on a limited budget. I have no desire to wear this non-existent red dress to the grocery store. My ‘red dress’ is actually something a bit more extravagant. It’s not flying lessons, singing for strangers at a bus stop, or learning how to box – all great ideas, though. My ‘red dress’ is adventure and, damn it, adventure shall be had.
I have two weeks off from school at the end of April and I had planned to spend that time in Austin with my niece who would then be in the world (as opposed to in the womb). Through some difficult decisions, I decided that I would not be going to Austin, but I already had the time requested off from work. So… there’s two weeks of freedom… what should I do?
I should tell my boss that I don’t need that time off anymore and then just work a ton and save money. I should think ahead to the summer term at school and read/write a bit over the break. I should act like an adult.
I resolve here and now to stop living my life by should and, instead, to live life by… something else. Should is a word used to trap us into cultural obligations and expectations. When we lose ourselves to ideals of others then the world is losing us, our voice, our desires and our dreams. That is a sadness that I do not want in my life.
So yes, I should do many things, and yet I am choosing adventure. I am choosing myself. I am choosing my ‘red dress,’ if you will, and I have wonderful, loving, amazing friends that I have thanked multiple times already for buying into my special brand of ‘crazy’ and joining me on my adventure…
I’m going to Ireland.
SeaTac to Dublin International, April 16th – 26th.
No shoulds. No regrets.
And I just might wear something red in honor of Jenny and in honor of me.