It started with a question. If I acted more like a real Parisienne (you know, confident, cool, assertive, unflappable), would I actually begin to feel more like one?
Why, you ask, would such a thing concern me? After all, I live in Paris. I've integrated well into our local community, I'm ridiculously blessed with a great family and good friends and even get to do work I love. But this has nothing to do with all that. It has to do with me. On the inside. I'm ready to make some changes that aren't about geography or fitness or getting organized (although I have some of those on my resolutions list, too). These changes are of the inner variety; the idea that it's high time to embrace my own power, to stop waiting for the world to give me what I seek and to simply go out and get it. No apologies.
And so in the spirit of the motto, "fake it 'til you make it," I turned my question into a challenge: What would happen if I acted out (on the outside), the changes I seek on the inside? If I act stronger, would I feel stronger? If I speak up, forcefully and clearly, albeit in my perfectly imperfect French, will the grouchy boulangere give me fresher baguettes? If I take to the streets like I'm worth a million bucks, will I feel like a star inside (no matter what I'm wearing?) If I venture a conversation with that mom at school, can I blow it off as nothing if she does the same? Basically, can I bring a new level of confidence and resilience to all (or most) of my life's interactions?
If I do, I believe more of what I seek will come: deeper connections to my loved ones and friends; greater joy in my daily life in Paris; the courage to write (and speak) what's true, even if it's hard or uncomfortable. These are things I resolve to do.
There are lots of great reasons for me to make these changes: to be a better role model for my daughter, to be a better partner, friend and even writer. But mostly I want to do it for me. And isn't that what getting older is all about?
And so in this spirit, I tackled yesterday. I strode the rues as if I owned them, greeted strangers with a shoulders back, my-French-may-not-be-perfect-but-it's-just-fine confidence, finished a piece I was writing and didn't apologize for a thing. And you know what? It worked. Nothing revolutionary actually happened, but I felt better, stronger -- more the me I want to be. And maybe even the tiniest bit Parisienne. :)