If you casually mentioned to me two, three, ten years ago that I would be running in a picturesque park barefoot in a shear teal gown accented with gold sequins, I would have giggled. With hair down, no less? That is just plain crazy talk.
Why the amusement? It is not a complicated answer. Laughter would have been my defense mechanism to avoid embarrassment. This act does not fit normally into an everyday routine. To carry it out holds the potential for public awkwardness and no one voluntarily seeks that. Imagine your lunch break in a nearby park. Casual conversations are being held over canned seltzer water and a mediocre handmade salad. Then, a girl dawning formal wear jaunts past you in her bare feet. Stunned is your first reaction, most likely followed by a smirk of amusement. You spot a lady snapping pictures and receive a small portion of explanation. This oddity might be mentioned over a coffee break later in the day or to a friend or significant other at happy hour, but all in all, the girl running in the gown will be forgotten.
Spoiler alert. I am the girl running in the gown.
Until recently, the potential for judgement or amusement from strangers would have haunted me. This haunting feeling manifesting into hesitancy leading to hindrance. An opportunity never unlocked because of lurking insecurities. The past two years have brought on a plethora of new experiences. When determining when to say yes or no thank you to these mini adventures, I find myself asking the inevitable question, "why not?" The answer is often not convincing enough to prohibit action.
Remember the last time you ran for fun? Your legs and arms pumped together in a natural Allegro tempo. A small burst of running used to achieve fitness is not always the most pleasant act. Rewarding, yes. Fun, no. Running for fun is a different story. Maybe you were running to embrace a loved one or rekindling a childhood game of tag or trying to beat out your new pup on the last sidewalk home. Or, maybe, you were trying to capture a strong sense of freedom to later share with your readers. Either way, a smile most likely overtook your face. The wind smacking you awake. This brief moment is a small slice of childhood euphoria. This euphoric feeling forever outweighing any potential embarrassment.
Years ago I would not have stood in front of a camera as I do now. I would have never unleashed my journalism into a public forum. And, I definitely would not have been the girl in the gown running in Mellon Park. Now it is hard to imagine who I would be without these experiences. I unlocked a part of myself that is fearless and I want it to run wild for now while being well-dressed, of course. The outcome from saying yes, embracing the self-proclaimed oddities thrown my way, has led to more positivity than imagined. It has opened my heart and mind to talented folks, interesting places and ways of thought otherwise left untapped. Continuing to run out of this vastly built comfort zone is a daily challenge. It requires a bit more effort and can lead to discomfort. But, I promise you that discomfort, that uncertainty, will lead to discovery.
So the next time you rock a beautiful gown, give it a test run. Why not?