My birthday is July 3. The country’s birthday is July 4. I have a cousin who’s 361 days younger than me.
Those three facts added up to personal birthday celebrations that were often combined and moved around because of the holiday and the idea that one party — usually a picnic — meant less disruption for everyone.
As I got older, I reached adult birthday status much earlier than my much older brothers — whose birthdays fell on days that had no competition with other events. They got their private parties well through high school. My birthday more quickly became a piece of another event rather than my own day. We’d go see fireworks or a parade to celebrate, but those events were bigger than my birthday.
4 Steps to Declare Your Independence
The fact that I was born on the Eve of Independence Day was never lost on me. I was already saying “My birthday is the day before 4th of July.” when I was kindergarten. My birthday couldn’t compete. I was never at the center of my birthday. Being a painfully shy child, I have to think that worked for me.
But there comes a time in any life that we have to claim our own independence. We have to learn how to make ourselves the “center of our own life’s plan,” or we’ll end up spending the time of our life without actually living it. Here are 4 steps to declare your independence right now.
- Decide who you are. At first it seems natural to let the people around us define us. Our family teaches us how to be social. Our teachers and peer groups tell us what they see. The universe is larger than the thoughts and images those groups put in our minds. Our potential is too. Don’t rely on the observations of the world to tell you who you are. They haven’t lived your life. The world can’t get together to take a vote on who you are. Choose your own best true story. Decide and show them instead.
- Be that person now. Don’t try to be that person. Don’t work toward some future date when you’ll know you are. None of us have enough future to waste on getting there. You know what you value. You know who you admire. Define yourself with those and be what you’ve defined immediately.
- Surround yourself with people who recognize you. Use your values to choose the people you trust. Shared values reinforce themselves. Time is unrenewable. Spend your time with people who make you feel proud to be who you are. You’ll know them because you’ll never have to focus on what you want or need. Being with people who see, hear, and understand us, frees us from having to highlight, underscore, or prove who we are. It move us away from living through self-consciousness, self-centeredness, and a conflict of selfishness with selflessness to consciousness, centeredness, and a balanced view of ourselves.
- Own the good things about you. Influence yourself. Get to know and value what others see and value in you. That’s how you’ll grow what’s good in you naturally. You can’t share or give what you don’t truly own.
Somehow we have it backwards. We live as if at the end of our life, weâll know â¦
who we are.
what weâll do.
where we will end up.
Decide those things first. — The Problem Isnât Not Knowing What You Want to Do â¦
Before I found my own independence, sharing my day always felt a bit disappointing. Hearing folks say, “enjoy YOUR day,” didn’t resonate with me. Yet once I decided who I am, began to live that, focused on people who truly see me, and learned from them what I offer, sharing my day — any day, any amount of time — became as easy as breathing. That’s how I learned to live the moments of my life.
Once I declared my independence, I learned how irresistible the people in my life truly are.
Have you declared your independence?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Related: Top 10 Ways to Start Living Your Life
Jon Mertz says
It is our life story in which we need to declare our independence and live it in a balanced way. Living it with full purpose and meaning is vital, but we need to balance it with our responsibilities of what we need to do for our families and communities.
Unfortunately, at times, we put off our story to another chapter and, then, another. We delay. Another unfortunate element is when we throw away our story to pursue a short story because it sounds good, yet it rings hollow in the end.
It is time to grab our independence – fully and responsibly. It is the only way our story will be worthwhile.
Thanks for these thoughts on this Independence Day!
Well said. The more I do that, the more I meet people who are doing that too. 🙂
Great article, Liz!
Thank you, Greg!
David Kemper says
Wonderful post, Liz!
How breathtaking it is to claim who we are, what a leap of faith to live into it. How difficult to unlearn the lessons that somehow we are unacceptable as we are.
For me, it starts with the bold and honest claim that God loves us exactly as we are. No matter what. Whatever that conception of God is. Exactly as we are, broken and everything. We are enough, just as we are.
In my experience, we aren’t designed to auto-validate. As Bob Dylan sings, “we’re gonna have to serve somebody.” So I think our declaration of independence, our claiming who we are, independent of lesser gods, springs from connection with the One of our understanding who designed and sustains us – and loves us. No matter what.
I also love your exhortation to “be that person now.” My friend Laurey Masterton says “don’t postpone joy.” My deepest joy comes from knowing that I am okay and i am loved as I am – independently – broken and whole. So, the sooner I leap into the adventure of independence, the sooner i can find the joy of who I really am.
Happy Independence Day, indeed!
Tag, you’re it!
Such great thinking in that comment. We can’t build something that doesn’t reflect us. Why would what God builds be any different?
Claiming who we are is essential to understanding what we bring to the world. 🙂
Heather Swart says
I hear you! My birthday is on the 26th of December and I share your sentiments! I loved this post, it struck accord with me – the part about “owning who you are”, I has never thought of it that way before! So thank you!
Anne Thomas says
Indeed I have!! Thanks Liz
Gerard Dunn says
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIZ!
Mark Babbitt says
Everyone knows you bring your own brand of fireworks! Happy Birthday, Liz Strauss…
Ruud Reijmerink says
Great article and happy birthday, Liz
Thank you, Ruud!
Happy Birthday Liz!
Great article. You just brought some very enlightening points to life! Thank you for sharing…
Have an awesome 4th!
Great to see you, Todd!
Thank you! 🙂
Yordie Sands says
Hi Liz… Happy belated birthday and I love the picture of your party! darling! Great ‘declare independence’ message. I’m glad I discovered your website. Happy Independence Day and kind regards… Yordie
Thank you for taking the time to say so!!
Happy Independence Day to you as well! 🙂
Erin Patrick says
Liz, this is an inspiring post. My dad always taught to create ourselves along the way; to seek out the gifts God put in us to our lives glorious. I never want to get to the end of my life on this earth and think that I just coasted through life, dealing with whatever life threw me! Love this post! Thanks for sharing!
I’m so with you on that. I want to be able to say “I had the time of my life.” 🙂
Mighty Casey says
Happy birthday, Liz! I’ve long believed that declaring independence from the **** that weighs us down is the real “pursuit of happiness” – note: we are only guaranteed the right to pursuit, catching some happy is entirely up to us!
I tend to go all thinky at the turn of the year, and wrote a manifesto for 2012 for myself, and anyone else who might need a checklist of what to leave behind, and what to embrace. I’m workin’ that list hard, still, dedicated to making 2012 my best year yet. Progress!
Thank you, Casey!
Seems, as always, that true passion can raise the level of what we write.
Lovely manifesto! 🙂
Happy birthday Liz 🙂
Great post, my birthday is Dec 8th so I know where you’re coming from lol
Delighted you found yourself in my blog post.
Thank you for the kind wishes! 🙂
Happy Birthday Liz BOOM â¡Â¡â¡
And the Decibel rings in my birthday with drums and cymbals.
Smiling at that! 🙂
Happy Birthday in arrears
U S A! U S A!! U S A!!!
Paula Henry says
Happy Birthday Liz! Love your story -especially owning the good things about yourself. Why do we only see the negative in ourselves and the positive in others.
Owning what we bring can be a trying kind of learning.
But it’s the only way to own a life. 🙂
Mary Helen Ferris says
Great article….finding your own story…that is a wonderful portal to freedom for me.
Thank you for the reminders of the other areas that need tweaking for freedom to be foremost.
I lived in Europe during the sixties, indeed, flower child. I never appreciated my freedoms until those five years in Europe. I was so blessed to be from North America. I do not take freedom for granted.
Gail Gardner says
Happy Belated Birthday, Liz. I often wish there were more hours in the day so that we would not miss timely moments and we could reach out to those who obviously ARE interested but don’t keep on top of each other’s calendars.
It occurs to me that I know about SOBcon but I haven’t ever promoted it or added a banner for it – but if you connected with me and suggested options, offered banners or an affiliate program, and tips on WHEN mentioning it would benefit you most that I would do it.
That’s the thing – none of us connects enough. I find it only takes one long conversation and then after that a quick tweet or a message dropped on Skype or chat when we can benefit each other.
I know! I see your tweets in the morning and think of you every time your avatar passes by.
I’m going to take you up on it. We should really get our minds together soon.
I’ll be in Portland next week — whenever I’m in that part of the world you’re on my mind. 🙂
Jane Boyd says
Better late than never…I have arrived here. Liz…you and I share our birthdays side by side – you July 3 and me July 4. Somehow this doesn’t surprise me….it is just one more thing that connects us. I love this post. It totally fits my independent, misfit mind and way of thinking. That said, it has taken me some work to get myself fully into this space. I thank you for supporting and encouraging me every step of the way. You are a true friend and I am thankful we found one another. One year…we will be in the same place at the same time and celebrate our birthdays together.