Back in the day, when Sarah Palin was a Republican Party nominee for VP in the 2008 Presidential election there was much written and said about her – most of it not very flattering. After she lost the election she went on to write a memoir entitled, “Going Rogue.” (The ‘Rogue’ part of the title derives from criticism leveled at Palin by McCain campaign advisers that she was straying from their carefully crafted message and publicly disagreeing with McCain on several issues.)
Sarah Palin is not the subject of this post, but I do have her run for the Vice-Presidency to thank for my rediscovering a word that I have grown to have a deep respect and affection for: rogue! Now the word has been around a zillion years – I know that. And, it has many definitions both positive and negative - I know that, too. But, for some reason –hearing it spoken repetitiously within the context of the election, and seeing it numerous times in print, I felt like I had just uncovered something powerful. I liked the strong image the word painted of one straying from the herd. For me, that image was quite formidable giving the word some serious clout. This five letter word soon became a big, bright and shiny object that I just had to own – so I took it, held it, and turned it over in my mind several times before placing it deep inside one of the silk-lined pockets of my memory. Back then, I was strongly attracted to the word, but didn’t have any identification with it, however, my heart knew that one day I would.
I was still living more or less inside the lines of life back in 2008. I hadn’t yet put a premium on my own happiness and I was being worn down by my efforts to always do the right thing. I continued to live forward, questioning, studying, and courageously shimmying more and more outside the lines of life – testing the waters – until, a few years later, when I grew into the awareness I needed in order to give myself permission to live true to myself rather than follow the strict expectations of others. And, in order to do that, I found myself – what do you know - going rogue!
Going rogue, in a positive context, and within which I am writing, isn’t easy, and still can draw massive amounts of criticism. We feel tremendous pressure to stay within the lines of our lives and to not make waves in our families, our social circles and/or our place of employment. The very thing that makes us want to go rogue is the very thing that keeps us in the middle of the herd. That ‘thing’ is, everyone loving to tell everyone else what to do. I call it humanity’s favorite pastime. Have you noticed it’s far more popular than Monday Night Football? The calls are: “You should…” or “You need to…” or “You need to get over that….” Everyone seeing himself or herself as the quarterback of your life!! People mean well, especially those who love us, BUT they don’t have a clue what we should do, need to do, or what we need to get over, if anything. The only people they have expert knowledge of are themselves! And we are the only ones who have expert knowledge of ourselves. You are your own quarterback! Tell them they need to go quarterback in their own life. (That’s an example of going rogue, by the way.)
I have not read Sarah Palin’s memoir, and I have no idea if she went rogue on John McCain’s carefully crafted message, and publically disagreed with him on several issues because she was listening to her heart and following her inner compass, or if it was for more nefarious reasons. In keeping with the positive message of this post we can all agree that only Ms. Palin knows for sure.
What I know for sure is, that listening to my heart and following my inner compass is the only way I now know how to live. It’s authentic, it’s transparent, it’s gentle and it’s kind, and often times it’s viewed as going rogue. When this happens there is usually some price to pay for straying and standing with myself. But it’s a price I’m willing to pay for my mental, emotional, and spiritual freedom. In the spirit of authenticity and transparency Life Coach Martha Beck says, “Being absolutely honest with yourself and with others tends to repel people who don’t like your authentic self and attracts those who do.”
In closing, there’s a question I ask my clients, when appropriate. “Do you want to be safe, or do you want to be free?” I ask myself that question all the time especially when I’m butting up against the expectations of others. The important thing to know is that we can all play it safe, and never stray, and never be criticized for going rogue, but that’s all we’ll ever get – safety; and just a modicum of an illusion of safety at that.
I say, “Go rogue and be free!”