The question, “What do you want?” is one of the scariest questions known to my ears. It draws me to confess that I have no idea what I want and that up until a few years ago, I didn’t even realize such a question could exist for me.
I have now come to believe that it is one of the most important questions on earth.
A few years ago I was lamenting to my therapist in one of our sessions about how I had been trying to lose weight and was feeling really frustrated about it. He stopped me in the midst of my wrestling and asked, with genuine curiosity, “Is that something you want? To lose weight?” I was dumbfounded by the question. I could have easily translated his questions as a judgment, as a “you’ve got to want it if you’re going to make it happen” statement. But there was not an ounce of judgment in his voice. Do I want to lose weight? I had assumed we both knew I needed to lose weight and that I should be trying to lose weight. Never had I stopped to consider if this was something I actually wanted.
Throughout my entire life I have had messages blaring at me to lose weight, be smaller, fit in. Thankfully my parents never told me to lose weight, but I was a sensitive child and I easily picked up on the pressures my mother constantly felt to lose weight and look a certain way. I inherited her fear by association. Even if I hadn’t, the messages to lose weight came down heavily from my peers, from my Young Miss magazines, from commercials, and even my church community. Lose weight — always, forever, and ever!
I can’t help but wonder what my life would be like now had the message “pursue what delights you” been said to me as frequently as the “lose weight” messages. Imagining the woman I might have become brings tears to my eyes and a swell of both aching and excitement in my chest. I ache for what has been missed, and I also feel excitement because I am coming to realize that it is never too late. With all the courage I can muster, I go back into my soul and I ask my adorable, 11 year-old self, “What delights you? What do you want?” I look at her soft, round face, and I treasure her answers, breathing in their sweet essence. I give those answers all the attention they deserve and I laugh with her at their wildness.
It is never too late to nurture our younger selves, to give our full attention to their desires. Though it will take a lot of courage - and likely a lot of aching - it is never too late to start asking ourselves what we want. The voices of others are so very loud, especially when they come bearing tidings of shame and judgment. It may take longer to tune into your own voice, to your own desires, but it is never too late to ask.
So tell me, what is it that delights you?
As a consultant, educator, and poet, Tracy delights in inviting others to live soulfully in their bodies. She has been described as “a wild woman of awe” and believes that experiencing the awe of life is what brings us most alive. Tracy has a particular passion for working with men and women who struggle with body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. She focuses on helping clients unearth the deep impact of shame in their stories as they work toward developing a more whole and alive self. Tracy can be contacted at email@example.com.