Free spirit

Who would have thought students could earn a scholarship for being a free spirit?

I’ve always felt like a free spirit waiting for her wings, but I’ve been too shy to admit it. I guess I thought the term “free spirit” implied something negative—irresponsibility or lack of focus.

Not so, not according to the Journalism Education Association, the Freedom Forum, and the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference program. Their motto is “Dream. Dare. Do.” Okay. Nice start. Nothing irresponsible or flighty about that.

A couple of my free-spirited journalism students asked me to write letters of recommendation for them to attend the conference, and the challenge inspired me to do a little research to find out what makes a free spirit.

The online Merriam-Webster defines a free spirit as a nonconformist. Like Thoreau maybe, who urged all to march to the beat of their own drummer.

Tina, a stay-at-home, work-from-home, homeschooling blogger from Central Valley, California, found her  definition of a free spirit through Wikipedia:

“Free spirits are inclined to explore life and taste new experiences that hold true to the deepest parts of themselves vs. being influenced by what the masses around them are doing. They are often people who think freely and have the courage to hear their own voice and follow their own integrity.”

I am a writer. I strive for the courage to hear my own voice and to follow my own integrity. What the masses say doesn’t mean it’s right. Sometimes I have to go my own way, do my own thing, risk ridicule. I have to be true to me–the way God made me–so I can do what I am called to do, not what someone else thinks I’m supposed to do. Hey, John the Baptist, could be called a free spirit with his camel-hair fashion statement and locust and wild honey diet.

My quest to find information for my students’ letters of recommendation sent me chasing rabbits. One website led to another, and I found myself enthralled by the vast info out there on the subject of free spirits.

Now I know why I often—not always, but often—click with some of my more unconventional students. Without consciously realizing it, we understand each other on a deeper level. The last thing I want to do is to cage their free spirits. I don’t want to change who they are. I know how miserable I am when someone tries to change me.

It’s not heavy reading, but a certain wikiHow site offers some valuable insight into the mind of a free spirit. Judge for yourself the accuracy of this information, but if most of these characteristics fit you, then maybe you’re a free spirit.

  • Free spirits are “fiercely independent” and love “everything out of the ordinary.”
  • Free spirits are creative and follow their whims.
  • Free spirits guard their inner selves.
  • Free spirits are selective about whom they trust; therefore, when they don’t feel trusted, they lose their sense of peace.
  • Free spirits wither when they are confined or controlled.
  • Free spirits challenge ultimatums.
  • Free spirits enjoy being around other free spirits.
  • Free spirits want to be accepted as they are, unconditionally.
  • Free spirits need alone time to think their own thoughts and to immerse themselves in their own creative projects.

If I had to sum myself up, I’d have to say I’m really like nothing of this world. I don’t have a desire to conform to it. Very few things can stop me from following my convictions, even if it means going against the grain and defying tradition.

I guess I’m pretty happy just being me.