Shaving My Legs, Labels & the Fluidity of the Universe.
For the past month or so, I’ve been letting my body hair grow.
I wanted to see what it felt like to have hair, to not have to shave every other day just because I wasn’t sure if I could love and accept my body exactly the way it was made.
I liked it as it grew in. I laughed at the reactions of my friends and family as they stared horrified at the hair growing in under my arms. It grew past the stage of being prickly and became softer, and I liked it. I still felt attractive and was pleased that I could, in fact, accept myself just the way I was.
And then today I found myself in the bathtub, really wanting to shave my legs.
So of course I questioned it. Why did I all of a sudden want to shave? Was it social conditioning? Was I feeling insecure? Was I not strong enough to resist my own feelings?
A long time ago, I remember talking to a girl who didn’t shave under her arms. “Why? Do you shave your legs?” I asked her, extremely curious.
“Sometimes,” she said, “If I feel like it.”
I remember my mind having a hard time with that—to me, you either shaved or you didn’t. It was a big decision, in my head, a choice you made and stuck with it.
And so today, staring at the soapy bubbles on my legs, trying to figure out why my feelings about everything always change so quickly, it dawned on me: we label things too much.
We label things too much. We expect them to be a certain way.
Black or white. Happy or sad. In a relationship or not in a relationship. You feel a certain way or you don’t. You shave or you don’t.
The problem is in the labels, in words. We create words for things, even though the words don’t really mean anything except for our perception of the thing or feeling to which they refer. We create labels and boxes and expect the world to fit into neat little categories. We value qualities like “reliability” and “consistency” because they make us feel more secure and comfortable in a world that really isn’t safe at all.
We expect our feelings to be one way or the other, to stay one way or the other.
The thing is, we can shave and then not shave, and then shave again. We can love somebody and then not love them anymore. We can be vegan for a while and then eat cheese. We can be in school and then drop out. We can settle on a career and then change it, 30 years later. We can eat super healthy and then drink too much wine. We can be so overwhelmingly grateful for everything in our lives one minute and then break down in tears the next.
We’re allowed to break the “rules.”
There really are no rules. We are allowed to change our minds and our feelings at the same rate the wind changes its direction. Everything in the world, in nature, changes constantly. We are of the world, of nature, and so we are no different. We do not need to explain or excuse our feelings away, or feel bad because we changed our minds.
We need to let go of the need to fit into a certain category, the need to be so disciplined that we ignore what we truly desire because we are too attached to being a certain way, to not changing. We need to allow ourselves to move with the fluidity of life, to breathe, to not get stuck.
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” ~ Alan Watts
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Demetra Szatkowski
Editor: Catherine Monkman