Keira is a confident person. She’s in tune with herself. She knows what she wants and she articulates it clearly and specifically. If she asks for help and doesn’t get it, she asks again and even shows them what she means. When someone asks her to do something that she’s not interested in doing, she simply says “no.” Her tone is neutral – kind even. She’s just answering the request honestly. No drama. No passive aggressiveness. She doesn’t get pressured into it only to grow angry and resentful during and after the fact. She wants what she wants – without apology.
Keira is my two-year-old niece, and her straightforwardness warms my feminist auntie heart. I delighted in watching her over the Christmas holidays. On Boxing Day, her dad played a little game with her. He pretended to sleep in the middle of the living room floor, complete with snoring sound effects. She brought him a pillow and covered him with a blanket – so thoughtful. So sweet. After a while (ok, it was only a few seconds – she is 2 after all), she wanted her turn. She pulled the blanket back and tried to get him up. Poking him did nothing. He was undisturbed when she yanked his arm with all her might. The snoring continued. Realizing that this task might require some outsourcing, she marched over to her uncle and said, “Help?” The adults were in mid-conversation, so her request wasn’t immediately addressed. She considered perhaps that she hadn’t been clear. She took him by the hand, pointed at her dad and said, “Help!” She then demonstrated her intention by trying to get him up herself again.
There is so much going on in this normal moment in the life of a 2 year old girl. She knows what she wants and goes after it. If she needs help, she asks. If nobody responds, she asks again with more clarity and enthusiasm.
I do hope she holds on to this.
Here’s the thing. I imagine that many of us had moments like this when we were young. We weren’t afraid to take up space, to have a plan, and to lead by example. And so I wonder…
When did that fierce independence get drummed out of me?
When did it get drummed out of you?
When did I decide that I should take a back seat and leave other people in charge of the direction of my life?
When did you?
Aren’t you sort of dying to get it back? To be the one steering the boat with intention?
I’ve always had an aversion to deferring my life plan to others, whether that be parents who wanted me to do the practical thing, a partner who loved me if I fit in a particular box, or society in general with its pressures and norms and judgments. In fact, when I tried to go along with what seemed practical instead of marching to the beat of my own drum, I fell into a deep depression.
I’ve come to see it as a sort of superpower of mine. I cut trough the noise to help people land on what is true and authentic for them. I help them cultivate the confidence and courage to go after it. This is how I live my life too. Because YOLO. Because it’s up to us. We’d better step up and not miss out on the life we wish we were living.
When it came time to leave, Keira’s mum asked her, “Do you want to give Auntie Brigid a hug and a kiss?” “No?” she answered, without delay. No anger or snippiness behind it – just a clear, honest “no.” You’ll be happy to hear that her parents honour and respect her space and her choice (as do I), and so I just blew her a kiss and waved goodbye. Her body, her life, her choice.
I invite you to channel your inner Keira. In summary, here’s her advice (as demonstrated on Boxing Day):
1) Get clear on what you want. (You’re allowed to have wants.)
2) Communicate directly, without guilt or shame. (Again, you’re allowed to have wants.)
3) Ask for help if you want it. (Be specific. If it doesn’t work, ask again.)
4) Know how to say “no.” (Use your words.)
I invite you to give yourself permission to live your life from the inside out. Get more familiar with your likes and dislikes. Consider the possibility to steering your life in the direction of your choosing. Because you are the boss of you, and you deserve a life that resonates.
Take the first step by signing up for my free 30-minute coaching call, Lighten Your Load. We’ll find creative solutions to deal with what’s draining you so you can have more time and energy for what matters. Sign up here.