Live more like Frida

— Some readers may find the last image on this post disturbing —

I vow to express myself more honestly, without reserve or fear, and to encourage that trait in our daughter.

Well, I actually vow to put effort into developing that trait.

I feel that too often in my life, I held myself back and deferred to other’s opinions and desires. To be polite, I willingly placed myself in the backseat of discussions  and social gatherings, as well as the actual backseat of vehicles. But I also think I put myself in the background because it was easier. And less risky. If your opinions are muted, nobody can challenge or ridicule them.

I want to push myself to become the person I’d like to be. A person unafraid of what other’s think of me, undaunted by the potential reactions and responses to my actions. My life is my own; I need to let myself be me. It’s not that I am dishonest about who I am. I am genuine in my relationships. I believe in honesty. But I haven’t always stood up for what I believe in moments that I should have. I have put too much thought into how others perceive me.

I can’t control the perception of others- they will think what they think. I have just one life and I shouldn’t spend it worrying about what other people might be thinking. I should just live how I want to live. I want to live more like Frida.

Photograph of Frida Kahlo

I honestly don’t know a great deal about this legendary artist, but there are aspects of her character that I am definitely impressed with and would like to cultivate in myself. Frida Kahlo inspires me to nurture my neglected self-confidence, self-expression, and boldness. I want to pursue my interests and follow my inclinations without deferring to the assumed perceptions of others. Frida’s tendency to do what she pleased, with seeming disregard to public opinion, is what first drew me to the artist, although she’s not the first to attract my attention with such characteristics. Tim Ferriss is another well-known, albeit contemporary, figure who inspires me for many of the same reasons. After a little more research, however, I discovered that Frida and I share a mutual, somewhat uncommon experience. It’s a painful and intimate experience which pulls Frida deep into my heart, and forges a strong personal link to this woman who lived and died long before I was born.

Frida was never able to have children. Her physical injuries prevented her from carrying a pregnancy to full term. Frida conceived, but ultimately lost each pregnancy. The losses of her potential children, and the destruction of her dream to have children with her husband, filled her with anguish and tormented her for many years. While it would be unfair for me to claim that I know how she felt, I do empathize with her agony and her need to express the very specific pain of loss. The loss of a life developing within her womb and the loss of her future as she had anticipated. I’m devastatingly familiar with the emotional trauma of loosing a pregnancy. And I’m still figuring out how to rebuild my life from the shards of broken dreams.

We expected to be mothers. We expected that the tiny being developing in our womb would one day lie warm and soft against our breast. We expected that tiny being to one day breathe in fresh air and feel the warmth of the sun while physically representing the love between ourselves and our husbands.  Instead what we experienced was the unexpected.

Even without a common experience, Frida Kahlo would have inspired me to pursue self-expression and self-confidence. Her fearlessness is beautiful and admirable. It is, however, the unexpected and sorrowful link between us which pushes her status as role model to an even higher regard. Frida endured unimaginable physical and emotional pain throughout her life and her dreams of being a medical professional and mother were denied by circumstance. Yet Frida reimagined herself and built a new identity, blessing the world with her creativity, perspective, and talent. The least I can do is choose to be active in my personal development and deliberate in my life; to live in the world and make choices that will make me, and Frida, proud.